Quick action by unarmed off-duty U.S. servicemen on a high speed train from Amsterdam to Paris narrowly averted tragedy yesterday as they subdued a terrorist gunman before he could begin his rampage. And according to multiple reports, the suspect in custody was known to multiple European intelligence agencies — yet another case of what I have termed “known wolf” terrorism.
Since last year, I’ve noted here at PJ Media that virtually all of the terrorist incidents in the West have been conducted by subjects who were already known to law enforcement and national security agencies, refuting the “lone wolf” narrative floated by authorities and the establishment media that such terrorist activity is random and unpredictable.
And such appears to be the case yet again in the case of what happened on the Thalys train.
The suspected gunman, a Moroccan national, was on the radar screen of European counterterrorism agencies for his radical jihadist views, the European counterterrorism official said.
A second security source told CNN the gunman was known by French intelligence. The official said it appeared the gunman was sympathetic to ISIS, but a full determination on his specific loyalties had yet to be reached.
Another report from The Telegraph indicates that the gunman was known to multiple European intelligence agencies:
The gunman who tried to bring carnage to a high-speed train is believed to have been an Islamist extremist who traveled to Syria last year.
The 26-year-old of Moroccan origin, named in the Spanish press as Ayoub El Qahzzani, is understood to have been on the watch lists of three European intelligence services.
The gunman was taken into custody at Arras station and the French authorities have not released his name. But if he was Qahzzani, he appears to have left Morocco in 2013 and moved to Spain, where he lived for about a year.
And Reuters indicates that Qahzzani was no “lone wolf”:
According to Le Voix du Nord, citing security sources, the suspected Islamist militant was seen on a plane to Turkey from Germany in May, and was thought to have visited Syria.
The French newspaper said he may have had connections to a group involved in a suspected Islamist shooting in Belgium in January.
One terrorism expert makes an important point:
Let's face it, this could easily have been 3x worse than Charlie Hebdo. And conversations we'd be having today would be v different
— Peter R. Neumann (@PeterRNeumann) August 22, 2015
An editor at the Jerusalem Post also asks another relevant question:
— Seth Frantzman (@sfrantzman) August 22, 2015
The case of yet another returned foreign fighter from Syria engaged in terrorism seems to refute the attempts by many counterterrorism researchers to say the threat is “exaggerated” and that terror returnees should be treated with a “hands-off” reintegration approach, most recently advocated by Charles Lister at Brookings Institution.
The “Known Wolf” terrorism phenomenon is something I have documented here at PJ Media going back to last year:
Dec. 15, 2014: Sydney Hostage Taker Another Case of ‘Known Wolf’ Syndrome
This was also the subject of a Capitol Hill briefing I gave back in late January sponsored by the Endowment for Middle East Truth (EMET):
So why is it that despite these repeated instances of “known wolf” terrorism, authorities have yet to even acknowledge the problem, let alone try to solve it?
The Islamic State has scored at least a temporary victory in the critical city of Baiji — Iraqi forces conducted a “tactical withdrawal” over the weekend from areas around the town.
Several key Iraqi Army and militia leaders were reportedly killed in the fighting around the city, home to the largest oil refinery in the country. This occurs as top Iraqi commanders are facing court martial over abandoning their positions in Ramadi, the capital of Anbar province, earlier this year.
Iraqi forces have been contesting the Islamic State’s hold on the city, which they captured in their push into northern Iraq in June 2014 and lost control of last November. The city is essential for both ISIS and the Iraqis, for it controls access to the ISIS-held city of Mosul, Iraq’s second largest city. Baiji is located 130 miles north of Baghdad and about 25 miles north of Tikrit.
ISIS launched a counter-offensive against Iraqi forces in the area late last week. Reuters reported Friday:
Islamic State militants attacked the outskirts of Iraq’s northern oil refinery town of Baiji overnight with car bombs and clashed with the army and Shi’ite militias in the town’s western districts, the local mayor and security sources said on Friday.
Control of Baiji neighborhoods has changed hands many times during the conflict. Authorities said last month they had recaptured most of the town, but the radical jihadist group attacked central neighborhoods days later, forcing pro-government forces to pull back.
At least three militia fighters were killed on Friday when Islamic State launched car bomb attacks against a makeshift headquarters in al-Rayash, about 18 km (5 miles) south of Baiji, a militia leader and a source in the Salahuddin Operations Command said.
Mortars in an adjacent area killed two civilians, according to the source in the operations command, the Iraqi military’s command center for the province of Salahuddin, where Baiji is situated.
Baiji Mayor Mahmoud al-Jabouri said Islamic State used 12 car bombs and more than 200 fighters in the offensive.
On Saturday, Al Jazeera Arabic reported that the Iraqi Army Salahuddin Province commander stated their forces had conducted a “tactical withdrawal” (begins at 0:15):
Al Jazeera English later published a report on the ISIS offensives in both Fallujah and Baiji:
In a separate attack in Baiji in Salahuddine province, ISIL launched an attack on Iraqi forces killing several troops, the commander of operations in Salahuddine province said.
Rukn al-Jumaa also said that due to the deadly clashes, Iraqi forces had had to retreat in some areas of Baiji.
They also launched attacks on Iraqi army barracks south of the city:
— Terrormonitor.org (@Terror_Monitor) August 16, 2015
Yesterday, ISIS published a statement noting the deaths of Iraqi leaders in the battle, as well as highlighting the capture of Iraqi equipment:
— TRACterrorism.org (@TRACterrorism) August 16, 2015
Photoset: Destroyed and abandoned Iraqi army and pro-government militia vehicles and equipment in Baiji… http://t.co/3l5UDsYsQZ
— C. Anzalone (@IbnSiqilli) August 17, 2015
ISIS has also reportedly blown up the bridge between Baiji and Tikrit, making reinforcement of Iraqi troops extremely difficult:
— Iraq Solidarity News (@iraqsolidarity) August 17, 2015
Meanwhile, competing claims of success by Iraqi Army and Shiite militia supporters in taking areas north of the town and approaching the refinery are simultaneously circulating:
— Aymenn J Al-Tamimi (@ajaltamimi) August 17, 2015
— IraqiMilitaryDomain (@Iraqi_Military) August 17, 2015
The Iraqis need Baiji to eventually push towards Mosul, and ISIS needs to hold Baiji to prevent any progress. Undoubtedly this area will continue to be heavily contested by both sides.
But the “tactical withdrawal” of Iraqi forces in the face of Obama’s “JV team” doesn’t bode well for the prospects of taking the battle deep into the heart of ISIS territory in the near future.
New evidence emerged this week that yet another terror group operating in Syria possesses BGM-71 TOW anti-tank missiles that had been provided by the U.S. to so-called “vetted moderate” rebel groups.
On Tuesday, the Caucasus Emirate posted photos of themselves using a TOW system on Twitter. The U.S. designated the Caucasus Emirate a terrorist organization in May 2011.
— KTYG (@Missy10013Kathy) July 31, 2015
— Green lemon (@green_lemonnn) July 30, 2015
Regarding this development, Caleb Weiss of Long War Journal reported:
A fighter from the Caucasus Emirate in Syria, an al Qaeda-affiliated group, released a photo showing ownership of a US-made BGM-71 anti-tank missile. It is unclear when or where the photograph was taken, but it is likely recent and taken in northern Syria. A note card reading “Imarat Kavkaz” or “Caucasus Emirate” in Chechen can be seen in the foreground.
I’ve noted repeatedly here at PJ Media of the heavy weapons provided by the U.S. to “vetted moderate” Syrian rebel groups falling into the hands of terrorist groups, including ISIS:
The outstanding question is when these U.S. heavy weapons will be used against Americans.
Al-Qaeda’a official affiliate in Syria, Jabhat al-Nusra, reportedly struck the headquarters of the U.S.-trained Division 30, killing five. This follows a week of bad news for Obama’s 54-man army of anti-ISIS Syrian rebels:
— Charles Lister (@Charles_Lister) July 31, 2015
— Charles Lister (@Charles_Lister) July 31, 2015
— Ivan Sidorenko (@IvanSidorenko1) July 31, 2015
— Ivan Sidorenko (@IvanSidorenko1) July 31, 2015
On Monday, I reported here at PJ Media that the first graduating class of the U.S.-trained “vetted moderate” rebels had left Turkey two weeks ago – and hadn’t been heard from since.
Defense Secretary Ashton Carter told Congress earlier this month that only 60 rebels had been trained through the $500 million program, with half of those funds already being spent at the cost of $4 million per fighter.
On Wednesday, I noted breaking reports that Jabhat al-Nusra had abducted 18 members of the U.S.-trained Division 30, including their field commander, just hours after entering Syria. Later reports put the number of abducted fighters at seven.
Later that day, the Pentagon denied that report. But yesterday, a number of media outlets — including Reuters, the Associated Press, the New York Times, the Washington Post, and The Daily Beast – all confirmed the reports of the abduction of the Division 30 fighters despite the Pentagon denial.
That notwithstanding, the Pentagon doubled-down on the denial yesterday:
US moves to quash reports on Syria trainees captured by al-Nusra http://t.co/k2X3FmkHP2
— El_Grillo (@El_Grillo1) July 31, 2015
Dubai-based reporter Jenan Moussa reported from her contacts that Jabhat al-Nusra was saying they didn’t have the U.S.-trained Division 30 fighters:
Source: U.S trained rebels still missing. Nusra says they dont have them. Witnesses say Nusra captured them. We dont know where they are.
— Jenan Moussa (@jenanmoussa) July 30, 2015
Undoubtedly, the inability of the Obama administration to protect the handful of “vetted moderate” Syria rebel fighters who have pledged to fight ISIS will surely hurt continued continued recruiting. Despite the fact that only 60 fighters have been trained so far, the $500 million program approved by congressional Republicans back in September was expected to train 5,000 this year alone.
Now, an attack on the Division 30 headquarters killing nearly ten percent of the trained fighters is making Obama’s Syrian rebel anti-ISIS army looking like the laughingstock of the Middle East.
UPDATE: Two incredible developments. First, Jabhat al-Nusra has taken credit for the attack on Division 30:
Alqaeda group statement confirms they captured U.S trained rebels, warns rebels not "to proceed in American project" http://t.co/6hGae0SuM5
— Jenan Moussa (@jenanmoussa) July 31, 2015
Then this claim that our NATO allies, who hosted the training of the Division 30 troops, ratted them out to Al-Qaeda:
— KTYG (@Missy10013Kathy) July 31, 2015
#BringBackOurRebels: Despite Pentagon Denial, Reports Confirm That U.S.-Trained Syrian Rebels Were Kidnapped By Al-Qaeda Almost Immediately
(Be sure to see the update below for new details and Associated Press confirmation.)
Earlier this week, I reported at PJ Media that the first class of Obama’s U.S.-trained, “vetted moderate” Syrian rebels — 50 in all — had left Turkey for Syria and had not been heard from since, based on a McClatchy report.
Yesterday, I posted a follow-up report claiming that 18 of the newly trained U.S. rebels, including some of the leaders, had been arrested/kidnapped by Jabhat al-Nusra, al-Qaeda’s official affiliate in Syria. Pentagon spokeswoman Elissa Smith denied the claim:
Reports have claimed that the al-Qaida linked Al-Nusra Front has detained 18 opposition members, including Syrian Turkmen Colonel Nedim Hassan, -who is the leader of the U.S train-and-equip program-, and field commander Farhan Jasim near the Syrian city of Aleppo on Wednesday, which was refuted by the Pentagon. “While we will not disclose the names of specific groups involved with the Syria Train and Equip program I can confirm that there have been no New Syrian Force personnel captured or detained.” Pentagon spokeswoman or Cmdr. Elissa Smith told Daily Sabah. It was claimed that the opposition members who were returning from the train-and-equip program from Turkey were cut in by the Nusra militants, and were allegedly detained on the grounds that they are cooperating with the U.S.
The flat-out denial by the Pentagon is being refuted this morning, both by a Reuters report and a statement issued by the group itself.
From the Reuters report:
The al Qaeda-linked Nusra Front has abducted the leader of a U.S.-backed rebel group in north Syria, opposition sources and a monitoring group said, in a blow to Washington’s efforts to train and equip fighters to combat Islamic State. A statement issued in the name of the group, “Division 30″, accused the Nusra Front of abducting Nadim al-Hassan and a number of his companions in a rural area north of Aleppo. It urged Nusra to release them. A Syrian activist and a second opposition source said most of the 54 fighters who have so far completed a U.S.-led train and equip programmed in neighboring Turkey were from Division 30. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a UK-based group that reports on the war, said the men were abducted while returning from a meeting in Azaz, north of Aleppo, to coordinate efforts with other factions. The opposition source said they were abducted on Tuesday night.
The Telegraph is also reporting:
Al-Qaeda-affiliated jihadists kidnapped the commanders of a US-trained rebel faction operating in northern Syria on Wednesday, sources said, in another blow for the Pentagon’s train-and-equip program for Syrian rebels.
A statement issued Wednesday by the Division 30 Infantry group accused the Nusra Front, Al Qaeda’s affiliate in Syria, of taking the Division’s commander, Colonel Nadim Al-Hassan, and his companions in the northern countryside of Aleppo province.
“[The Division] demands that the brothers in the Nusra Front release the colonel… and his companions with the utmost speed so as to preserve the blood of the Muslims and… so as not to weaken the frontlines with side disputes between the brothers of one side,” said the statement, which was released on Division 30′s official page on social media.
This development embarrasses both the Obama administration and the GOP leadership that pushed for the $500 million in funding for the program on multiple levels:
- The program was supposed to train 5,000 rebels to fight the Islamic State this year, but Defense Secretary Ashton Carter admitted to Congress earlier this month that only 60 had completed the program.
- To train those 60 fighters, the Pentagon has burned one half of the funds allocated for the training, with $4 million spent per fighter so far.
- No sooner had that first class of 54 been sent off to Syria on July 12 than the Pentagon reportedly lost contact with them.
- Then yesterday the initial reports were that 18 of those members had been arrested by Jabhat al-Nusra, prompting the Pentagon denial.
- Now, the Division 30 statement and the Reuters report flatly contradict the Pentagon denial yesterday, meaning they did not know or they lied about the embarrassing report.
As I stated yesterday, it’s become clear which side actually fits the description of “JV team.”
UPDATE: The Associated Press confirms the report that the Pentagon denied yesterday:
Syrian activists say a leader and six members of a U.S.-backed rebel group have been abducted in northern Syria, most likely by the al-Qaida-affiliated Nusra Front.
The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights and a Turkey-based Syrian activist said Thursday that Col. Nadim al-Hassan, who heads a brigade known as “Division 30,” was picked up near the border town of Azaz along with the other six.
Dubai-based reporter Jenan Moussa has additional details:
I spoke to v. credible sources (who want 2 say anonymous) on kidnap of U.S trained rebels by Nusra Front. Details in coming tweets. @akhbar
— Jenan Moussa (@jenanmoussa) July 30, 2015
Source: Head of regiment 30 “Nadim AlHassan” was kidnapped along with 20 fighters. These are from latest rebel batch trained by U.S. @akhbar
— Jenan Moussa (@jenanmoussa) July 30, 2015
Source: U.S trained Nadim AlHassan & his men entered Syria 2 start 1st attacks agnst ISIS. They were kidnapped next to Azaz hospital @akhbar
— Jenan Moussa (@jenanmoussa) July 30, 2015
Source: Kidnapping of U.S trained rebels happened 1 hour after they entered from Turkey, Syria border crossing of Bab El Salameh. @akhbar
— Jenan Moussa (@jenanmoussa) July 30, 2015
Source: Kidnappers of U.S trained rebels wore black hoods. They drove in 4 pickups & a van. They opened fire & kidnapped group. @akhbar
— Jenan Moussa (@jenanmoussa) July 30, 2015
Source: Witnesses tell us kidnappers of U.S trained rebels R Nusra Front. We spoke to Nusra Emirs. They say they aren't holding them @akhbar
— Jenan Moussa (@jenanmoussa) July 30, 2015
— Jenan Moussa (@jenanmoussa) July 30, 2015
Source: B4 sending U.S trained rebels 2 Syria, we spoke 2 all groups incl. Nusra. We told them our guys will enter, target ISIS only @akhbar
— Jenan Moussa (@jenanmoussa) July 30, 2015
Source: U.S trained rebels still missing. Nusra says they dont have them. Witnesses say Nusra captured them. We dont know where they are.
— Jenan Moussa (@jenanmoussa) July 30, 2015
On Monday, I reported here at PJ Media that the first 50 graduates of Obama’s U.S.-trained “vetted moderate” Syrian rebel army had left Turkey for Syria two weeks ago — and haven’t been heard from since.
But today comes a new report that a fresh class of U.S.-trained recruits were arrested today upon entering Syria.
18 of American trained-equiped Syrian moderates arrested by Nusra Front after entering Syria today – Turkish http://t.co/EWrz7LHhFX
— ilhan tanir (@WashingtonPoint) July 29, 2015
— Conflict News (@rConflictNews) July 29, 2015
Tanir links to this Turkish Sputnik News report that says Jabhat al-Nusra, Al-Qaeda’s official affiliate in Syria, arrested the 18 U.S.-trained members of Obama’s “vetted moderate” rebel army for being American agents.
This is just the latest embarrassing episode for Obama’s $500 million anti-ISIS army approved by congressional Republicans back in September.
Despite having spent half of those funds already, Defense Secretary Ashton Carter revealed to Congress earlier this month that only 60 fighters had been trained so far. This amounts to $4 million per fighter.
We know from the McClatchy report earlier this week that 50 members of that first class are MIA. Now 18 members of the next class are in the custody of al-Qaeda.
Anyone want to talk about a JV team?
#BringBackOurRebels: Obama’s 50-Man ‘Vetted Moderate’ Syrian Rebel Army Vanishes After Training in Turkey
If you thought the farce of American foreign policy under the Obama administration couldn’t get any worse, you need to revise your expectations.
Earlier this month Defense Secretary Ashton Carter briefed Congress on the $500 million program to train “vetted moderate” Syrian rebels to fight the Islamic State.
The United States has only trained approximately 60 Syrian rebel fighters as of July 3, Defense Secretary Ashton Carter told the Senate Armed Services Committee on Tuesday, saying the number is “much smaller” than the administration hoped to train at this point.
“I said the number 60, and I can look out at your faces and you have the same reaction I do, which is that that’s an awfully small number,” he said.
Carter’s admission highlights the increasing concern over the effectiveness of a program to train a local fighting force to combat ISIS in Syria.
As Politico noted at the time, the price tag for these 60 fighters was $4 million each with half of the $500 million appropriated for Obama’s “vetted moderate” rebel army having already been spent.
So how are our “vetted moderate” rebels faring? No one knows, because apparently they have vanished (HT: Alimhaider).
McClatchy reports today:
The dispute over aims has made it almost impossible for the U.S. and other allies to recruit young Syrians under the $500 million U.S. “train and equip” program. Hundreds of recruits reportedly walked off when they were asked to commit to fight only the Islamic State and not the Assad regime.
The first graduates of the course in Turkey, about 50 recruits, rolled into Syria two weeks ago in four wheel drive pickup trucks. But they haven’t been heard from since.
The U.S. goal was to train at least 5,000 fighters against the Islamic State this year alone.
So after two weeks Obama’s “vetted moderate” army hasn’t been heard from since.
What happened? Some folks on Twitter are exploring the possiblities:
they can't get wifi either… @alimhaider
— B'emet Or (@BemetOr22) July 27, 2015
Lest congressional Republicans get too cocky, let me remind them that they are the ones who approved the $500 million for this boondoggle.
Maybe Michelle Obama can get a new Twitter hashtag trending: #BringBackOurRebels.
Obama Admin Backs NATO Ally Turkey’s Double Game with Islamic State After Turks Bomb Anti-ISIS Kurdish Groups
A bizarre situation unfolded this past week, one that could possibly drag the U.S. into a new war in the Middle East.
On Monday, a suicide bomber attacked a rally in Suruc, Turkey, targeting a news conference of the Kurdish Federation of Socialist Youth Associations, killing 32. The suicide bomber was identified by Turkish authorities as an Islamic State supporter who had returned from Syria.
Turkey identifies suicide bomber who killed 32 at cultural center as student with suspected ties to ISIS. http://t.co/EqLZWdow6G
— New York Times World (@nytimesworld) July 22, 2015
In response the Islamist government in Ankara, led by Obama’s pal Recep Erdogan (one of Obama’s top five international friends), launched airstrikes targeting not the Islamic State, but Kurdish groups in Iraq.
— CNN Türk ENG (@CNNTURK_ENG) July 25, 2015
— CNN Türk ENG (@CNNTURK_ENG) July 25, 2015
— The Economist (@TheEconomist) July 26, 2015
This comes as more evidence emerges that Turkey has been playing a double game with the Islamic State. The evidence was obtained in a U.S. special forces raid of a senior ISIS leader in Iraq.
The Guardian reports today:
When US special forces raided the compound of an Islamic State leader in eastern Syria in May, they made sure not to tell the neighbours.
The target of that raid, the first of its kind since US jets returned to the skies over Iraq last August, was an Isis official responsible for oil smuggling, named Abu Sayyaf. He was almost unheard of outside the upper echelons of the terror group, but he was well known to Turkey. From mid-2013, the Tunisian fighter had been responsible for smuggling oil from Syria’s eastern fields, which the group had by then commandeered. Black market oil quickly became the main driver of Isis revenues – and Turkish buyers were its main clients.
As a result, the oil trade between the jihadis and the Turks was held up as evidence of an alliance between the two. It led to protests from Washington and Europe – both already wary of Turkey’s 900-mile border with Syria being used as a gateway by would-be jihadis from around the world.
— Joshua Landis (@joshua_landis) July 27, 2015
This is not the first time that Turkey has been caught double-dealing against their U.S. NATO ally. There was the “gas for gold” scheme with Iran that allowed the Islamic Republic to skirt international sanctions, and Erdogan and the Turkish intelligence chief had a photographed meeting with U.S. designated Al-Qaeda global terror financier Yasin al-Qadi.
Curiously, shortly after those reports showing photographs of Erdogan meeting with al-Qadi appeared in the Turkish media, the Treasury Department under Obama removed al-Qadi’s terror designation.
The preferred route of thousands of foreign fighters now in the ranks of ISIS appears to have been mostly coming from Turkey and crossing the border into Syria, bringing complaints that Turkey was not doing enough to combat the group’s growth and that the border was becoming “a two-way jihadist highway.”
But a series of published reports going back to last year seem to show direct and indirect Turkish support for the Islamic State.
- In April 2014, Turkish media reports showed photographs of ISIS commander Abu Muhammad being treated at the Hatay State Hospital after being injured fighting in Syria. Opposition politicians also claimed that fighters with Jabhat al-Nusra, Al-Qaeda’s official affiliate in Syria, were allowed to stay at the guesthouses of the government’s Religious Affairs Directorate.
- Last November, Newsweek published an interview with a former ISIS fighter who said that ISIS fighters faced no obstructions entering from Turkey. Meanwhile, ISIS commanders bragged about the “full cooperation with the Turks,” while anti-ISIS Kurdish fighters were blocked by Turkish authorities.
- This account seems to be confirmed by a report from Aydınlık Daily, which reported in July 2014 that the Turkish intelligence service, the MIT, had transported members of Syrian terrorist groups and their weapons across the border.
- Two weeks after that report, at an event site approved by Erdogan’s ruling AKP Party and sponsored by a publication known for its ISIS sympathies, a rally was held in Istanbul where video showed speakers openly calling for jihad. There were also reports that recruiting for ISIS fighters took place.
- In January, Turkish military documents from the Gendarmerie General Command leaked online showed that Turkish intelligence were transporting missiles, mortars and anti-aircraft ammunition for Al-Qaeda and actively obstructed the military from documenting the transfers.
- The New York Times reported in May that massive amounts of ammonium nitrate, a fertilizer used for making bombs, were being prepared in a Turkish town near Syria and transported across the border. The report quoted an opposition politician who admitted that the fertilizing was not for farms, but for bombs.
- Reuters reported exclusively in late May that court documents and prosecutor testimony revealed that Turkish intelligence had transported weapons across the border in 2013 and early 2014, aiding the offensive push by ISIS into Iraq in June 2014. Erdogan himself had said that the shipments were aid.
And then there’s this, though it’s unlikely that it’s much of a secret…
McCain Accidentally Speaks the Truth About Iraq Army’s Anti-ISIS Campaign: ‘They Can’t Do It Themselves’
Senator John McCain (R-AZ), at a hearing of the Senate Armed Services Committee on Thursday, interrupted colleagues and had a testy exchange with Marine Lt. Gen. Robert Neller, who has been nominated by President Obama as the next commandant of the Marine Corps.
But during the exchange between the committee chairman McCain and Neller, McCain accidentally let some truth slip out:
McCain also went after Neller on Iraq, interrupting Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., who was grilling Neller with a series of rapid-fire questions on Iraq, Syria, Iran and whether ISIS was targeting Americans in the U.S. “I’m not aware that they’ve specifically targeted American individuals,” Neller said.
“General, you’re not answering the senator’s questions,” said McCain, who went on to engage Neller on Iraq and the use of U.S. Joint Terminal Attack Controllers (JTACs) on the front lines in Iraq to guide airstrikes.
McCain accused Neller of trying to give a “scholastic answer” on JTACs and said “you know full well as I do – forward controllers make the difference. This line about they’re the ones (the Iraqis) that have to do it for themselves – general, they can’t do it themselves. We know that. That’s why they’re losing.”
That frank assessment is in stark contrast to McCain’s past catastrophic policies in Libya and Syria. But he pressed Neller further:
McCain asked: “Maybe you can tell me what we’re doing that will win against ISIS. Can you tell me that?”
“Senator, what we’re doing, I believe, is providing advisor teams and support,” Neller began to say.
McCain cut him off: “And that’s succeeding?”
“It stemmed the tide against ISIS, but it is not removing them from Iraq,” Neller said.
“So you believe that ISIS is losing?”
“No sir, I do not.”
“Do you believe they’re winning?
“No, sir,” said Neller. “I don’t believe they’re winning either, I believe they’re at a stalemate.”
To his credit, McCain was able to get the nominee to contradict outgoing Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Martin Dempsey, who said just last Saturday that the Iraqi offensive against the Islamic State was “gaining momentum.”
1) The Ramadi offensive is "gaining momentum," says Dempsey in DC. http://t.co/hpq0MvTIdl
— Liz Sly (@LizSly) July 19, 2015
In fact, Defense Secretary Ashton Carter made a surprise visit to Baghdad yesterday to check on the progress of the Iraqi Army’s offensive against the Islamic State in Ramadi in Anbar Province.
This is just two months after Secretary Carter said that the Iraqis lack “the will to fight”:
Defense Secretary Ashton B. Carter warned that Iraqi troops will not be able to defeat the Islamic State until they develop a “will to fight,” reflecting the deep level of concern and frustration inside some quarters of the Obama administration in the wake of the Iraqi military’s collapse in Ramadi last week.
His comments, in an interview that aired Sunday, came after fighters with the Islamic State, which had appeared to be retreating in parts of Iraq, swept through the western Iraqi city of Ramadi and were gaining ground in Syria.
President Obama has described the losses as a “tactical setback” and said that the administration’s overall strategy in Iraq and Syria would not change. Carter’s comments, though, suggested deeper problems with Iraqi forces.
While the Washington Post spun Carter’s trip to Iraq yesterday as a check on the preparations for the Ramadi offensive, in fact, the push has already begun. And it’s reportedly not going as expected:
U.S.-backed offensive in Iraq gets off to a disappointing start http://t.co/JhV4jRmyGC
— L.A. Times World (@latimesworld) July 19, 2015
A U.S.-backed military offensive against Islamic State fighters faltered in its first week as several hundred militants entrenched in the provincial capital of Ramadi withstood punishing airstrikes and held off a far-larger force of Iraqi ground troops, senior U.S. and coalition commanders said Saturday…
The push by pro-government forces to retake Ramadi, which fell to the militants in May, includes about 10,000 members of the Iraqi army, federal police and Shiite militias, and Sunni tribal fighters.
But they have struggled to gain ground against heavy resistance, including hundreds of booby traps and other defenses built by a small but capable force of 250 to 350 Islamic State fighters believed to be holed up in the city, about 60 miles west of Baghdad.
There is good cause for McCain’s skepticism about the Iraqis’ ability and determination to push back the Islamic State.
A training video released today by Liwa Fursan al-Haqq (Knights of Justice Brigade) of the “vetted moderate” Free Syrian Army (FSA) opens with the group’s special forces practicing their abduction and kidnapping skills. And yet FSA units, funded, supported and armed by the U.S., have been repeatedly implicated in the abduction and kidnapping of U.S. citizens in Syria.
Here you can see them putting their U.S.-funded training to practice:
Also shown are critical military skills, such as standing on the back of a motorcycle while shooting two U.S.-funded AK-47s one-handed:
You can watch the whole 10 minute video in all of its glory:
What makes the video of U.S.-funded FSA units being trained in kidnapping and abduction so important to note is that FSA units have repeatedly been implicated in the abduction of American citizens who were later traded to Jabhat al-Nusra, Al-Qaeda’s official affiliate in Syria, as well as the Islamic State.
On Sunday, I reviewed the reported evidence here at PJ Media on what we knew about Muhammad Youssef Abdulazeez, the killer who gunned down four Marines and one Navy sailor in Chattanooga last Thursday, as both investigators and the media puzzled over his possible motive.
For many in the media, the motive remains elusive:
Chattanooga shooter was possibly troubled; motive a mystery http://t.co/9gxzwZwdRT
— WSB-TV (@wsbtv) July 21, 2015
And as our friends at the Washington Free Beacon have chronicled, this is a point that the media is at great pains to let you know.
But the killer’s family has given the media the narrative they’ve been searching for: Abdulazeez was mentally ill, depressed, drug addled, a troubled youth with financial debts.
This was pushed out yesterday by ABC News after the family presented the killer’s diary:
Four days after the shooting, the FBI has not found any connection to overseas terrorist groups, but Mohammod Abdulazeez’s diary says that as far back as 2013, he wrote about having suicidal thoughts and “becoming a martyr” after losing his job due to his drug use, both prescription and non-prescription drugs, the family representative said.
In a downward spiral, Abdulazeez would abuse sleeping pills, opioids, painkillers and marijuana, along with alcohol, the representative said.
Most recently, the 24-year-old was having problems dealing with a 12 hour overnight shift, and had to take sleeping pills, according to the representative. The young man was also thousands of dollars in debt and considering filing for bankruptcy.
Three months before the shooting, Abdulazeez was arrested on April 20 — a day celebrated annually by marijuana users — and charged with drunk driving. The arresting officer noted a smell of marijuana in the car.
But wait a second. Did they just say that going back to 2013, he wrote about “becoming a martyr,” which ABC News quickly translates into him having “suicidal thoughts”?
Well, that’s one way to spin it, I guess.
They also quickly leap over this important point:
The gunman who killed five American troops in a Chattanooga shooting spree last week did online research for militant Islamist “guidance” on committing violence that he may have believed would wipe away in the afterlife his sins on earth including drug and alcohol abuse, an arrest and a lost job, officials said on Monday.
The Internet searches were discovered on electronic devices such as his smartphone analyzed over the weekend by the FBI Lab in Quantico, Virginia, several counter-terrorism officials confirmed to ABC News.
So since 2013 he had written about “becoming a martyr,” and also he had conducted online research for Islamic “guidance” for committing violence.
But it wasn’t just any “guidance” he sought, but the teachings of al-Qaeda cleric Anwar al-Awlaki, who the U.S. killed in a drone strike in September 2011, the New York Times reports:
The authorities who were examining Mr. Abdulazeez’s computer found that he had viewed material connected to Anwar al-Awlaki, the radical American-born cleric who was killed in Yemen by an American drone strike in 2011, according to a person with knowledge of the investigation.
And yet that tidbit was also buried by the New York Times underneath the family’s claims of mental illness, clinical depression, drug use, financial problems, etc.
While investigators still put the pieces together from Thursday’s terrorist attack in Chattanooga, there’s a lot more we already know about the attacker, Muhammad Youssef Abdulazeez.
And yet, officials investigating the attack are apparently having problems identifying motive, and some observers still questioning whether this was even a terror attack.
— ABC News (@ABC) July 18, 2015
Is Chattanooga shooter Muhammad Youssef Abdulazeez a terrorist? Experts say its too early to tell. http://t.co/Cu6VHPzZhF
— Foreign Policy (@ForeignPolicy) July 18, 2015
So in the spirit of cooperation, let me offer some direction to investigators based on what we already know from what’s been reported.
First comes the question of motive, which authorities appear to be baffled by.
An exclusive Reuters report gives us some fresh clues:
Exclusive: Tennessee suspect texted friend link to Koranic verse before attack http://t.co/cFIqfncDTg
— Reuters Top News (@Reuters) July 18, 2015
Hours before the Tennessee shooting that killed five U.S. servicemen, the suspected gunman texted his close friend a link to a long Islamic verse that included the line: “Whosoever shows enmity to a friend of Mine, then I have declared war against him.”
His friend thought nothing of it at the time, but now wonders if it was a clue to Thursday’s rampage in Chattanooga, which has re-ignited concerns about the radicalization of young Muslim men.
Hmmm… that might be pertinent to motive. The article also adds this:
Abdulazeez’s friends said he had returned from a trip to Jordan in 2014 concerned about conflicts in the Middle East and the reluctance of the United States and other countries to intervene.
He later purchased three assault rifles on an online marketplace and used them for target practice, the friends said.
“That trip was eye-opening for him. He learned a lot about the traditions and culture of the Middle East,” said the close friend who received the text message.
Abdulazeez was upset about the 2014 Israeli bombing campaign in Gaza and the civil war in Syria, he said. “He felt Jordan, Qatar, Saudi Arabia were not doing enough to help, and that they were heavily influenced by the United States.”
Another friend said, “He had always talked about it, but I’d say his level of understanding and awareness really rose after he came back.”
Among those who knew Abdulazeez, this trip was apparently of some note for a change in his behavior:
— The Lead CNN (@TheLeadCNN) July 17, 2015
And then there’s the issue of exactly where he visited:
Chattanooga gunman ‘spent time in Jordan and Yemen’ http://t.co/1FqnbT9Uuf
— The Times of Israel (@TimesofIsrael) July 17, 2015
The young American Muslim man who shot dead four US Marines in Chattanooga on Thursday visited Jordan and Yemen last year, Army Radio reported Friday.
According to the report, Mohammad Youssuf Abdulazeez spent a month in Jordan in 2014, during which time he also visited Yemen.
Our own Bridget Johnson explores a possible angle to his trip to Yemen:
— Bridget Johnson (@Bridget_PJM) July 17, 2015
And the attack by Abdulazeez was a virtual copycat of the attack by Abdulhakim Mujahid Muhammad (aka Carlos Bledsoe) targeting a Little Rock recruiting center in 2009, which killed Army Pvt. Andy Long and wounded another soldier.
Where was Muhammad/Bledsoe radicalized? Yemen, where he spent 18 months before returning to the U.S. and conducting his attack.
AQAP-related? Similar case in 09 w/Carlos Bledsoe having returned from Yemen, attacking Lil Rock recruiting office https://t.co/naSwRfERxc
— Aaron Y. Zelin (@azelin) July 17, 2015
But it’s not just his pre-attack text message and travel that should be of interest to investigators. There seems to be more direct evidence of his ideological motivation:
— The Daily Beast (@thedailybeast) July 16, 2015
The killer of four U.S. Marines in Chattanooga maintained a short-lived blog that hinted at his religious inner life. Mohammad Youssef Abdulazeez’s blog had only two posts, both published July 13 and written in a popular style of Islamic religious reasoning.
What did those blog posts divulge?
— Adam Goldman (@adamgoldmanwp) July 18, 2015
In the first, “A Prison Called Dunya,” Abdulazeez described everyday life as a prison and the Koran as a means of transcending it. In Arabic, “Dunya” refers to earthly concerns as opposed to spiritual ones.
“This life we are living is nothing more than a test of our faith and patience,” he wrote. “It was designed to separate the inhabitants of Paradise from the inhabitants of Hellfire … Don’t let the society we live in deviate you from the task at hand.”
He added, “Brothers and sisters don’t be fooled by your desires, this life is short and bitter and the opportunity to submit to allah may pass you by.”
In his second posting, Abdulazeez discussed the Sahaba — companions of the prophet Muhammad — and how they served their faith by bringing it to the world, sometimes through warfare.
“Every one of them fought Jihad for the sake of Allah,” he wrote. “Every one of them had to make sacrifices in their lives. . . . After the prophets, they were the best human beings that ever lived.”
The complete blog posts by Abdulazeez can still be found online.
And the New York Times helpfully informs us that authorities are looking at his previous ties to “extremist groups”:
Investigators are examining the Chattanooga gunman’s past for ties to extremist groups http://t.co/yo5d1xVcnU
— The New York Times (@nytimes) July 17, 2015
What extremist groups might Abdulazeez been involved with? The KKK? The Los Banditos motorcycle gang? The Tea Party? Southern gun culture?
Information on Chattanooga shooter Mohammad Youssef Abdulazeez appears to indicate that today’s attack was yet another case of what I have termed “known wolf” terrorism – where suspects already known to law enforcement authorities as threats end up committing acts of terror.
Benny Johnson at IJ Review reports:
Pentagon Source: Mohammad Youssef Abdulazeez was on the global intel watch-list and his accounts had been flagged for radical behavior.
— Benny (@bennyjohnson) July 16, 2015
If in fact Abdulazeez was on not just U.S. watch lists, but also international, this is just the most recent episode of an international breakdown by law enforcement authorities.
As I’ve documented here at PJ Media for nearly a year, virtually all of the terror attacks in the West in recent years have been committed by individuals already known to be potential threats:
Dec. 15, 2014: Sydney Hostage Taker Another Case of ‘Known Wolf’ Syndrome
June 26, 2015: France’s Beheading Terrorist Was Well-Known By Authorities
This was also the subject of a Capitol Hill briefing I gave back in late January sponsored by the Endowment for Middle East Truth (EMET):
How many more “known wolf” terror attacks will need to occur before anyone in Congress begins to notice and ask questions?
UPDATE: Feds denying?
A United States official says there’s no indication that the suspected Chattanooga gunman was under investigation by the FBI or on the radar of federal law enforcement at the time of the shooting.
The official was briefed on the investigation but was not authorized to discuss an ongoing investigation and spoke on condition of anonymity.
— CNN Breaking News (@cnnbrk) July 17, 2015
UPDATE2: The plot thickens…
Law enforcement official: Abdulazeez's father once on a terror watch-list, under investigation by fed. authorities. pic.twitter.com/PA4zKIaSch
— Fox News (@FoxNews) July 17, 2015
UPDATE3: More — anonymous — denials from Fed sources:
— knoxnews (@knoxnews) July 17, 2015
Report: ‘Vetted Moderate’ Free Syrian Army Fighting Alongside Al-Qaeda, Islamic State Against Assad Regime
An article yesterday from a pro-regime news site claims that elements of the “vetted moderate” Free Syrian Army (FSA) are fighting alongside Jabhat al-Nusra — al-Qaeda’s official Syrian affiliate — and the Islamic State against an Assad regime offensive near the border with Lebanon in al-Zabadani.
Al-Masdar al-Arabi reports:
Reports from the resort-city of Al-Zabadani have confirmed that the western-backed “Free Syrian Army” (FSA) is currently fighting alongside two terrorist groups, the Syrian Al-Qaeda group “Jabhat Al-Nusra” and the Islamic State of Iraq and Al-Sham (ISIS), as the Syrian Arab Army’s 63rd Brigade of the 4th Mechanized Division and Hezbollah continue their offensive on the Syrian-Lebanese border.
For almost a year, the FSA, ISIS and Jabhat Al-Nusra have been deeply entrenched in the vast Qalamoun and Western Mountains of Lebanon and Syria, while they attempted to maintain their strategic supply routes from the ‘Arsal District of the Beqa’a Governorate (Lebanon) amid relentless airstrikes from the Syrian Arab Air Force (SAAF).
However, the Syrian Armed Forces and Hezbollah began a long-awaited offensive in the Qalamoun Mountains of Syria and Lebanon in April of this year, capturing over 250 square kilometers of territory from the FSA, Jabhat Al-Nusra, and ISIS after 46 days of non-stop fighting along the Syrian-Lebanese border; this offensive paved the way for the eventual assault on Al-Zabadani.
As Henry Kissinger famously quipped, “It’s a pity they both can’t lose.”
Max Abrahms, terrorism professor at Northeastern University, points out in response to this report:
If true, reports of FSA fighting with IS in Zabadani against Syrian army weaken claims of a (1) moderate opposition & (2) IS-Assad alliance.
— Max Abrahms (@MaxAbrahms) July 9, 2015
Again, this is a pro-regime source reporting this information, but this would hardly be the first time that the FSA and other U.S.-backed Syrian rebels have been caught fighting with Jabhat al-Nusra and ISIS. As I noted here at PJ Media in early May, a number of Western media reports have placed the FSA and other U.S-backed rebel groups, including the Syrian Revolutionaries Front (SRF) and Harakat al-Hazm (both now defunct), in alliance with and/or support of al-Nusra and ISIS:
May 7: Wall Street Journal reports SRF joins with Al-Qaeda to help take hilltops in Golan Heights
July 9: Al Jazeera quotes ISIS leader saying that they purchase U.S. weapons from and maintain good relations with the FSA
Aug 3: New York Times cites FSA commander saying joint FSA, Nusra Front, and ISIS forces attack a border post with Lebanon
Aug 18: Islamic State commander openly brags about defections by U.S.-trained and armed FSA fighters
Aug 28: Washington Post says Nusra Front aided by Western-backed rebels capture UN Quneitra border crossing with Israel, abducting 43 Fijian peacekeepers
Sept 7: L.A. Times notes Hazm fighting alongside Al-Qaeda in Aleppo, quoting fighters admitting the relationship
Sept 8: Daily Star (Lebanon) quotes FSA brigade commander saying his forces were working with Islamic State and Nusra Front near Syria/Lebanon border
Sept 13: The Hill reports that SRF had declared a truce with the Islamic State
Sept 24: L.A. Times notes Hazm condemnation of U.S. airstrikes targeting ISIS in northern Syria
Nov 1: Reuters says that SRF elements defected to the Nusra Front
Nov 3: International Business Times observes that U.S.-backed rebel groups pledge allegiance, surrender weapons to Nusra Front
Nov 23: The Guardian states that FSA units develop alliances with, even defect to, the Islamic State while condemning U.S. airstrikes
Nov. 28: Associated Press reports close collaboration of U.S.-backed rebels and Al-Qaeda in southern Syria
Dec 24: German journalist who embedded with Islamic State tells France 24 that ISIS is obtaining weapons from Western governments purchased from FSA
Dec 28: New York Times admits that FSA is under effective control of Nusra Front
Feb 18: McClatchy reports that former Obama frontman for Syria, Robert Ford, no longer trusts Syrian rebel groups because they collaborate with jihadist groups
Apr 30: Reuters notes U.S.-armed FSA units in northern Syria allied with Nusra Front
A coordinated attack by terrorists on multiple Egyptian military checkpoints in north Sinai has left dozens dead with fighting still ongoing in some areas, according to multiple reports.
— Agence France-Presse (@AFP) July 1, 2015
— BBC Africa (@BBCAfrica) July 1, 2015
— Hani Shukrallah (@HaniShukrallah) July 1, 2015
Wilayat Sinai, the ISIS affiliate operating in Sinai and formerly known as Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis (ABM) until their merger with ISIS in November 2014, has reportedly already taken credit for the attack:
ISIS-affiliate Sinai Province claims responsibility for North Sinai attacks that killed at least 30 Egyptian soldiers http://t.co/LltRDjNGp3
— Haaretz.com (@haaretzcom) July 1, 2015
— Mada Masr مدى مصر (@MadaMasr) July 1, 2015
This attack comes just two days after the assassination of Egypt’s Prosecutor General Hisham Barakat, whose funeral was yesterday.
— Mada Masr مدى مصر (@MadaMasr) June 29, 2015
The attacks occurred near Sheikh Zuweid not far from the Rafah border crossing into Gaza.
— Deena (@deenahsn) July 1, 2015
— Sule Sulizo Momoh (@plaga4real) July 1, 2015
— Al Jazeera English (@AJEnglish) July 1, 2015
— Al Jazeera English (@AJEnglish) July 1, 2015
If casualty figures continue to climb, this would be one of the biggest terror attacks in Egypt’s modern history and definitely would mark an escalation in the conflict between terrorist groups and the Egyptian government in the two years since the ouster of Muslim Brotherhood President Mohamed Morsi.
— AlBawaba EG (@AlBawabaEG) July 1, 2015
— AJE News (@AJENews) July 1, 2015
Sinai journalist says militants on roofs and in streets, F-16s flying above. No one going outside. https://t.co/132GxYw7Yd
— Evan Hill (@evanchill) July 1, 2015
— Mohamed Yehia (@yeh1a) July 1, 2015
Witnesses say armed men were seen stealing military equipment from attack sites in Sheikh Zuwayed, N.Sinai
— Mada Masr مدى مصر (@MadaMasr) July 1, 2015
Ambulances can't reach the injured people as terrorists planted landmines allover the roads of North Sinai… https://t.co/0195gdPT7D
— Dr F. Francis (@Dr_F_Francis) July 1, 2015
Egypt is one of the top U.S. allies in the Middle East, though the Obama administration withheld military supplies from Egypt for nearly two years as the insurgency in the Sinai escalated, only relenting recently.
Egypt's Sisi to US: Give us more weapons to fight Islamist terror http://t.co/eS1StY7qRV
— The Jerusalem Post (@Jerusalem_Post) March 10, 2015
Just days after Western analysts were updating their obituaries for ISIS after the group’s setback in Tel Abyad, which is about 100km north of the ISIS capital of Raqaa, ISIS has lashed back with two offensives: a small-scale raid on Kobane on the Turkish/Syria border, and against Hasakah in Kurdish-controlled northeastern Syria.
And pictures distributed by multiple outlets show ISIS using U.S-.made TOW BGM-71 antitank missiles in their assault on Hasakah.
This situation map from Friday shows the current placement of regime, Kurdish and ISIS forces:
— Islamic World News (@Amin_Akh) June 27, 2015
UN estimates are that the current fighting has displaced 60,000 people:
— Reuters UK (@ReutersUK) June 26, 2015
Sadly, some of those fleeing Hasakah include Assyrian and Armenian refugees who took refuge in Hasakah earlier this year when ISIS made a push against Christian villages along the Khabur River.
Even more disturbing is that ISIS is using captured U.S.-made TOW missiles in their assault on Hasakah:
— الرقة تذبح بصمت (@Raqqa_Sl) June 26, 2015
Many of the TOW missiles that remain in Syria that were originally provided to so-called “vetted moderate” rebel groups over the past year have fallen into the hands of ISIS and Jabhat al-Nusra, Al-Qaeda’s official affiliate in Syria.
— Rami (@RamiAlLolah) April 26, 2015
— Rita Katz (@Rita_Katz) March 2, 2015
For more than six months I’ve been reporting here at PJ Media about the continued loss of these U.S.-provided weapons to forces hostile to the U.S.:
With the Iraqi army losing 2,300 US-provided Humvees to ISIS, and other reports indicating that ISIS has also obtained 40 M1A1 tanks, 74,000 machine guns, and 52 M198 Howitzer mobile gun systems, with increasing numbers of U.S. personnel flooding back into Iraq (now more than 3,500), it only seems to be a matter of time before the U.S. military will eventually be confronted with ISIS forces armed with U.S.-provided weapons.
When that happens, who will hold the Obama administration and GOP leadership accountable for the predictable blowback from their Syria and Iraq policies?
Yet Another ‘Known Wolf’: France’s Beheading Terrorist Was Well-Known By Authorities, But No Action Was Taken
Yassin Salhi, the suspect in a beheading at a factory owned by an American company near Lyon, France, had been known to authorities for his connections to the Salafist networks in the area since 2006.
Reports indicate that authorities were well-aware of his increased radicalization over the past two years.
— The Independent (@Independent) June 26, 2015
The victim appears to be Salhi’s former employer:
#BREAKING French decapitation victim was suspect's boss: source close to probe
— Agence France-Presse (@AFP) June 26, 2015
- A person rammed a car into the premises of a factory owned by U.S. company Air Products in the town of Saint-Quentin-Fallavier, triggering an explosion.
- Police have said a decapitated head was found at the site, along with a flag bearing Arabic writing, although there was uncertainty about how the man was decapitated and where. The head was also covered in Arabic writing, according to authorities and media reports.
- The attacker got out of the car to go into the factory and attempt to cause more explosions.
- Firefighters arrived to hear him shouting “Allahu Akbar!” (Allah is great)
- They managed to surround him and keep him there until police arrived to arrest him.
French President François Hollande said that this was a terrorist attack:
The plant is owned by an American company, Air Products:
French factory attacked – Air Products – American owned. Based in Pennsylvania.
— Jon Williams (@WilliamsJon) June 26, 2015
Here is a map locating the village near Lyon where the attack took place:
— Visactu (@visactu) June 26, 2015
Salhi’s contacts with French authorities go back to 2006:
Cazeneuve: Suspect had no criminal record. Put on watch list in 2006 for suspected radicalization – not renewed in 2008. #Isère
— Jon Williams (@WilliamsJon) June 26, 2015
BRTL-France notes that French security service DGSE had two notes from May 2014 noting Salhi’s increased radicalization and a “brutal” change in his appearance, along with two of his friends. They reportedly wanted to create an Islamic institute in Besançon:
— RTL France (@RTLFrance) June 26, 2015
As regular readers of PJ Media will recall, since last year I’ve been reporting on what I’ve termed the “known wolf” terrorism problem: when terror suspects are already known to law enforcement authorities prior to committing an attack.
Here’s a recap of my “known wolf” terror reporting:
Dec. 15, 2014: Sydney Hostage Taker Another Case of ‘Known Wolf’ Syndrome
This was also the subject of a Capitol Hill briefing I gave back in late January sponsored by the Endowment for Middle East Truth (EMET):
I discussed “known wolves” in this interview with my colleague Erick Stakelbeck at CBN News. You can watch that video on the next page.
Last month I reported here exclusively at PJ Media on the rapidly escalating number of Islamic terror-related arrests this year, noting that we were on pace to surpass the number of arrests for 2013 and 2014 combined (48) before the halfway point of the current year next week.
In fact, that is exactly what has happened. At present 53 suspects have been arrested or involved in Islamic terror-related incidents with law enforcement since the beginning of the year.
This is top among reasons why Rep. Devin Nunes (R-CA), chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, said just a few days ago that this is “the highest threat level we have ever faced in this country.”
Here are the additional cases since I reported last month, beginning with the most recent:
June 22: Justin Nojan Sullivan, 19, of Morganton, North Carolina, was charged with attempting to materially support ISIS and two related weapons possession charges. According to local press reports, the teen intended to attack a bar or concert, and then kill as many as 1,000 victims. DOJ press release. Complaint.
June 19: Amir Said Abdul Rahman Al-Ghazi aka Robert C. McCollum, 38, of North Olmstead, Ohio, was arrested for attempting to provide material support to ISIS, illegal possession of a firearm by a felon, and trafficking marijuana. Media reports indicate that Al-Ghazi had been known to the FBI since December 2012 due to his social media activity, and that in June 2014 he pledged allegiance to ISIS in a Facebook posting. FBI press release. Complaint.
June 17: Fareed Mumuni, 21, of Staten Island, New York, an associate of Topaz, was arrested for attempting to repeatedly stab an FBI agent investigating his role in a possible domestic terror plot. In court documents, prosecutors said that “Mumuni espouses violent jihadist beliefs and is a fervent supporter of (ISIS).” Complaint.
June 13: Munther Omar Saleh, 20, of Queens, New York, an associate of both Topaz and Mumuni, was arrested for plotting to set off a pressure cooker bomb at a New York City landmark in support of ISIS. He was arrested when he and another man lunged at a law enforcement surveillance vehicle that had been following his movements. According to the complaint, Saleh was active on social media, saying in September 2014 that Al-Qaeda was becoming too moderate, and expressing his praise for the Charlie Hebdo attack in January and the attempted attack in Garland, Texas, last month. Complaint.
June 11: Akmal Zakirov, 29, an Uzbek national, was charged as the fifth member of a Brooklyn-based cell to materially support ISIS. Specifically, Zakirov had assisted in helping others plan to travel to Syria to join ISIS. DOJ press release. Indictment.
June 11: Nicholas Rovinski aka Nuh Amriki, 24, of Warwick, Rhode Island, was arrested for conspiracy to obstruct an investigation and conspiracy to materially support ISIS related to his role in an ISIS-inspired domestic terror plot with two Boston-based associates. FBI press release. Complaint.
June 10: Abdul Malik Abdul Kareem aka Decarus Thomas, of Phoenix, Arizona, was indicted by a federal grand jury for his role in the attempted Garland, Texas, terror attack by his associates, Elton Simpson and Nadir Soofi, in early May. According to the indictment, Kareem had taken the pair shooting, supplied weapons to Simpson and Soofi, and hosted a gathering in his home to discuss the Garland “Draw Muhammad” event. He is accused of later lying to FBI agents after Simpson and Soofi were killed during the attempted attack. In a subsequent hearing in the case, the FBI said that Kareem had discussed attacking the Super Bowl. Indictment.
June 10: Reza Niknejad, 18, of Prince William County, Virginia, was charged with conspiring to provide material support to terrorists, conspiring to provide material support to ISIS and conspiring to kill and injure people abroad. He was charged in abstentia since he traveled to Syria in January to join ISIS. The charges were announced in conjunction with the plea agreement reached with one of his conspirators, 17-year-old Ali Shukri Amin. DOJ press release.
June 2: Usaamah Abdullah Rahim, 26, of Roslindale, Massachusetts, was killed in a confrontation with FBI agents and a Boston police officer after lunging at them with a large, military-style knife. The FBI wanted to speak to Rahim about his intended plan to kill police officers. One of Rahim’s conspirators, David Wright aka Dawud Sharif Abdul Khaliq, 25, of Everett, Massachusetts, was arrested later that same day and charged with obstructing justice in the investigation. Wright and Nicholas Rovinski were later charged with conspiracy to materially support ISIS. FBI press release. Initial Wright complaint.
May 27: Leon Nathan Davis, 37, of Augusta, Georgia, was charged with trying to aid ISIS. The charges appear related to his October 2014 arrest at Atlanta Hartsfield Airport and weapons charges filed in February. FBI press release.
May 26: Asher Abed Khan, 20, of Spring, Texas, was charged with conspiracy to materially support ISIS. As I reported here at PJ Media, Khan planned to travel to Syria through Turkey to join ISIS, but was lured back home by his family who lied and told him that his mother was dying. Khan apparently made it onto the FBI’s radar when his social media messages turned up in another investigation. According to the criminal complaint, one of Khan’s friends was successful in leaving the country and joining ISIS in Syria. FBI press release. Complaint.
It should be noted that every single case I’ve reported on here involves support for ISIS. This is undoubtedly the result of a directive from FBI headquarters for its field offices to “shake every tree” following the attempted terror attack in Garland, Texas, in early May, much to the bureau’s credit.
Last week Rep. Michael McCaul (R-TX), chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, told CNN that small-scale ISIS attacks should be expected on July 4th, amidst an active hunt for ISIS supporters by the FBI ahead of the Independence Day celebrations. But with rising support for ISIS here and abroad, it remains to be seen whether these efforts will be sufficient.
Regardless, I’ll continue to provide updates on the Islamic terror-related arrests as 2015 looks to be an unprecedented year in domestic terrorism.
A two-part video published earlier today shows ISIS using U.S. TOW anti-tank missiles during the capture of the Syrian town of Palmyra last month.
Entitled “The Raid of Abu Malik Tamimi,” the videos also show ISIS using tanks, rocket launchers, howitzers and other heavy weaponry in their attack on the town.
The TOW makes its appearance ~2:28 in Part 2 of the video below (WARNING – GRAPHIC SCENES):
Presumably, most of these weapons have been obtained by ISIS in their victories against Syrian and Iraqi military and U.S.-backed so-called “vetted moderate” Syrian rebel groups.
Over the past year I’ve reported here at PJ Media about the defections and surrender of “vetted moderate” groups and leaders to ISIS and Jabhat al-Nusra, Al-Qaeda’s official affiliate in Syria. In particular I have noted the capture and use of CIA-provided TOW missiles by Jabhat al-Nusra:
So now we have conclusive proof of both Al-Qaeda and ISIS using TOW missiles that had been provided to U.S.-backed “vetted moderate” groups. The CIA program to supply these “vetted moderate” groups with TOW systems began in April 2014, meaning that it took less than a year for these heavy weapons to end up in the hands of designated terror groups.
Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi admitted recently that the Iraqi army lost 2,300 Humvees that had been provided by the U.S. to ISIS in their seizure of Mosul a year ago. Other reports indicate that ISIS has also obtained 40 M1A1 tanks, 74,000 machine guns, and 52 M198 Howitzer mobile gun systems.
When U.S. weapons now in the hands of terrorist groups end up killing American soldiers and civilians, who will answer for this growing blowback?
UPDATE: Some idea of where ISIS might have obtained those TOW missile systems:
— Rami (@RamiAlLolah) April 26, 2015
Also important to note that the TOW is being used against ISIS as well:
— Tem ציונות مجاهد (@lievan_tem) June 3, 2015
U.S. coalition aircraft struck ISIS positions in support of Syrian rebels, including Jabhat al-Nusra, Al-Qaeda’s official Syria affiliate, along with another prominent jihadist group, Ahrar al-Sham. This is a dramatic shift from just a year and a half ago, when Obama administration officials said they would support Islamist groups as long as they weren’t allied with Al-Qaeda.
Agence France Presse reports:
US-led aircraft bombed Islamic State group fighters as they battled rival Syrian rebels, including Al-Qaeda loyalists, for the first time, a monitoring group said on Sunday.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights described the overnight raids in northern Aleppo as an intervention on the side of the rival rebels, which include forces who have been targeted previously by US-led strikes.
“The coalition carried out at least four strikes overnight targeting IS positions in the town of Suran,” the Britain-based Observatory said.
“It’s the first time that the international coalition has supported non-Kurdish opposition forces fighting the Islamic State,” Observatory director Rami Abdel Rahman told AFP.
He said at least eight IS fighters were killed in the strikes and another 20 were injured.
This is also the first time that the U.S. has openly acted as air support for Al-Qaeda.
It needs to be stressed that U.S. airstrikes have targeted Jabhat al-Nusra in just the past month. Now we are effectively their air force. Nusra was designated a terrorist organization by the U.S. in December 2012.
Some may remember the breathless media reports last September that a previously unmentioned terror group operating inside Syria was plotting attacks on the U.S. and other Western targets, described by U.S. officials as the “Khorasan group.” As Al-Aan TV later revealed, the “Khorasan group” was nothing more than an elite group of foreign fighters working as part of Jabhat al-Nusra.
Thus began a series of U.S. strikes targeting al-Nusra:
Sept. 23: An airstrike killed Nusra leader Abu Yousef al-Turki.
Nov. 13: A Nusra base near Idlib was hit killing two.
Nov. 19: A storage facility controlled by Nusra was struck near the Turkish border at Harem.
March 9: A local Nusra headquarters in Bab al-Hawa was targeted close to the Turkish border.
May 20: Two Nusra buildings in Tawama were destroyed, killing 15 fighters.
This dramatic shift in U.S. policy towards al-Nusra has not gone unnoticed:
— Haidar Sumeri (@IraqiSecurity) June 7, 2015
Don't you love it when people say "Oh al Qaeda is just one group in the Jaish al-Fatah coalition we're supporting."
— Max Abrahms (@MaxAbrahms) June 8, 2015
— Sufyan Al-Baghdadi (@sualbaghdadi) June 7, 2015
So what changed?
UPDATE: One of the Foreign Affairs writers has responded to this article, and I’ve responded in kind below.
Imagine the following headlines during World War Two:
December 1941: “If you talk about Pearl Harbor, you’re aiding Japanese imperialism.”
December 1944: “If you talk about the German encirclement of Bastogne, you’re aiding the Nazis.”
August 1940: “If you talk about the Italian conquest of British Somaliland, you’re aiding fascism.”
For most today, these statements would seem silly. During that time, they would have been taken for a case of insanity.
But this sort of headline is what we were treated to in Foreign Affairs this week in response to the conquest of Ramadi in Iraq last week by the Islamic State in an article, “Don’t Aid ISIS,” by Bridget Moreng and Nathaniel Barr.
— Foreign Affairs (@ForeignAffairs) June 2, 2015
Their argument is that if you recognize the ISIS conquest of Ramadi and talk about its possible implications, you’re aiding ISIS propaganda efforts:
Alarmist analyses of Ramadi aren’t just wrong, they’re dangerous. By inaccurately interpreting the takeover as an indication that ISIS is on the rise, commentators are playing directly into the group’s narrative [...]
This dynamic has been a problem for some time. In November 2014, multiple leading news outlets reported that ISIS had taken over the Libyan city of Derna, when in reality, ISIS was only one group in a patchwork of militant organizations operating in the city. And this time around, CNN’s Christiane Amanpour quoted a former CENTCOM advisor saying that 6,000 Iraqi forces had fallen to just 150 ISIS fighters in Ramadi. This claim is almost certainly untrue, as ISIS is unlikely to have sent only 150 fighters to wrest control of a major urban city. This is the type of exaggerated analysis that plays into ISIS’ hands by portraying it as a super-human fighting force.
ISIS has even incorporated Western analysts’ comments into its own propaganda: its monthly English-language magazine Dabiq dedicates a section—entitled “In the Words of the Enemy”—to quoting Western government officials and analysts who have warned of ISIS’ growing strength.
Analysts should remember that their assessments of ISIS’ capabilities resonate far beyond the Beltway and the national media. Misinterpretations of battlefield developments and exaggerations of the jihadists’ strength complicate U.S. efforts to fight them in the arena of public opinion, and by extension, on the battlefield.
There seems to be several things happening here.
With respect to their claims about the number of ISIS fighters in Ramadi, you have their naked assertion of what they think ISIS would do versus a statement by a former CENTCOM adviser to a news organization. Had Moreng and Barr responded with “ISIS mobilized X elements from city Y to Ramadi,” then their dismissal of the CNN report would have more merit. As it is, they’re engaged in little more than wishful thinking. Is their denial of the claim sufficient to dismiss the report altogether? Clearly not. An account with actual reality-based reporting in the Wall Street Journal is leagues more substantive.
In recent weeks, the Muslim Brotherhood has stepped up their terrorist activity and made unmistakable calls for more violence in Egypt, effectively dropping the “moderate” mask that gave cover to Western analysts and government officials going back to the Bush administration.
This policy has nonetheless stayed intact — the Obama administration continues to meet with and be advised by Brotherhood officials.
A March 2007 Foreign Affairs article, “The Moderate Muslim Brotherhood,” provided talking points to the D.C. foreign policy “smart set” advising a continuance of this charade. At the time, I was one of the few analysts publicly challenging claims of the Brotherhood’s “moderation,” and I documented elsewhere the foreign policy disaster wrought by embracing the Muslim Brotherhood and other so-called “moderate” Islamists.
Just days before my arrival in Cairo last year, two Muslim Brotherhood members were killed in a shootout with Egyptian security forces as they attacked a police checkpoint in the Nile Delta. At the same time, the ISIS-linked Sinai terrorist group that has been waging a terror campaign there released a suicide bomber video showing one individual who was know to have been involved in the Muslim Brotherhood protests that were broken up by Egyptian authorities in August 2013.
As I traveled into Upper Egypt I saw churches and ancient monasteries that had been burned down by Muslim Brotherhood mobs, complete with graffiti identifying those terrorist acts with the group. I interviewed Coptic church officials who gave testimony to the direct role of Muslim Brotherhood officials in those attacks, which were responsible for the destruction of more than 70 churches and 1000+ Christian homes in the space of just a few days:
But when the United Arab Emirates gave terrorist designations to two U.S. Muslim Brotherhood groups in its efforts to stamp them out last November, the State Department weighed in on behalf of the Muslim Brotherhood.
Calls by the Muslim Brotherhood for increased violence by their members have escalated over the course of this year:
- In January, the group’s official website posted a statement calling for a “long, uncompromising jihad” and directing its members to prepare for such. This statement was posted just a day after top Muslim Brotherhood leaders were hosted at the State Department.
- A group called the “Revolutionary Punishment Movement” closely tied with the Brotherhood issued a statement in early February warning all foreigners and diplomats to leave the country by February 28 or possibly be faced with becoming targets in their attacks.
- Late last week, the Muslim Brotherhood published an official statement in English and in Arabic stating that “the revolutionary option with all its means and mechanisms is its strategic choice from which there will be no retreat,” and justifying the killing of politicians, judges, security officials and media personnel.
Just two weeks ago, the official spokesman for the Muslim Brotherhood was openly calling for beheadings:
MB's call for violence here is very explicit: https://t.co/hhHHpHAEbe It's calling for retribution and cutting off heads from rotten bodies.
— Eric Trager (@EricTrager18) May 18, 2015
These calls for increased violence have received official sanction by Islamic clerics associated with the Muslim Brotherhood:
MB sheikh Essam Telemeh says Mufti, judges, etc. who 'oppress' like 'thugs' that is people can kill them for revenge https://t.co/JjXBSZlNvf
— مختار عوض (@Mokhtar_Awad) May 17, 2015
MB Sheikh Essam Telemeh says if police detains your mother, wife, etc. you should organize & kidnap theirs as hostage http://t.co/NzAWPduj7d
— مختار عوض (@Mokhtar_Awad) February 1, 2015
Akram Kassab of the International Union of Muslim Scholars — one of the top Islamic bodies in the world — called the assassination of Egyptian judges who sentenced Muslim Brotherhood leaders to death a “religious duty.”
The threats and exhortations are having the intended effect. Muslim Brotherhood cadres are responding to these calls for an expanded terror campaign:
April 25: Four individuals identified by police as members of the Muslim Brotherhood accidentally killed themselves in Beni Suef while making bombs.
May 10: Two Muslim Brotherhood members were killed while carrying IEDs on a motorcycle that went off prematurely in Fayoum. One of the men was the son of a Muslim Brotherhood leader.
May 18: Two Muslim Brotherhood members were killed in a firefight with police at a hideout in Helwan. The pair were suspects in an attack on a judge’s home.
May 19: A Muslim Brotherhood member was wounded as he was building bombs in his apartment in a Cairo suburb.
May 20: A Muslim Brotherhood member who was the main suspect in the killing of a Homeland Security colonel in April was killed in a confrontation with police near Cairo.
May 26: Police arresting Muslim Brotherhood members in Giza discovered a workshop where various weapons were manufactured.
More instances could be cited denoting the upward terror trend.
An American, Ahmad Abousamra, who was wanted by the FBI since 2009 and listed on the FBI’s Most Wanted Terrorists list since 2013, was killed today according to a statement published by the Iraqi government. He was reportedly one of the top ISIS media propagandist officials and involved in the production of videos showing the beheadings of Western ISIS hostages.
The Iraqi Ministry of Interior announced the death of dozens of ISIS terrorists in an air strike in the west of Anbar province, Al Arabiya News Channel reported on Sunday.
Among those killed was “Abu Mohammed al-Soory,” also known as “Abi Samra,” who is reportedly an expert in filmmaking, and ISIS documentary film maker, “Abu Osama al-Amriky.”
And in a statement obtained by Al Arabiya News, the Iraqi Ministry of Interior announced the elimination of various ISIS commanders of various nationalities in an air strike that targeted their compound in the city of Qaim in the jurisdiction of Fallujah, “after following the leaderships (ISIS) meetings in a complex reconnaissance operation.” [...]
The statement by the ministry added that, “amongst those killed were Abu Mohammed the Syria, nicknamed Abu Samra, who is an ISIS filmmaking expert, Abu Osama the American who is a documentary specialist for the militant group in addition to Abu Hareth Al Shami, Abu Aicha Al Ansari who is an explosives expert, Abu Saif Al Jazrawy, a Morrocan national, Abu Hussein Al Sulaimani who was in charge of the militant group’s charity foundation, Abdullatif Jumaa Al Mohammedy who was in charge of suicide bomber operations in Fallujah.
From the Iraqi Interior Ministry statement, it appears that another American, Abu Osama al-Amriki, may have also been killed.
Abousamra, who fled the U.S. in 2006 and was indicted in a Boston-area terrorism case in 2009, was identified as one of the top ISIS propaganda experts who may have been involved in the production and filming of videos showing the beheading of Western ISIS hostages.
In announcing Abousamra’s addition to the Most Wanted Terrorists list, the FBI said about his 2009 indictment:
Ahmad Abousamra was indicted after taking multiple trips to Pakistan and Yemen, where he allegedly attempted to obtain military training for the purpose of killing American soldiers overseas. On November 5, 2009, a federal arrest warrant was issued for Abousamra in the United States District Court, District of Massachusetts, Boston, Massachusetts, after he was charged with conspiracy to provide material support to terrorists; providing and attempting to provide material support to terrorists; conspiracy to kill in a foreign country; conspiracy; and false statements. Abousamra was indicted on a total of nine charges and should be considered armed and dangerous.
The FBI had previously published this video, “Seeking Ahmad Abousamra“:
ABC News reported back in September about Abousamra’s propaganda role for the Islamic State:
The senior law enforcement official said it appears now that Abousamra may have taken up a similar job with ISIS as his co-conspirators had for AQI. Abousamra, the FBI says, has a “college degree related to computer technology and was previously employed at a telecommunications company.”
“There continues to be a worldwide search for Abousamra and he will be pursued until he is found,” another official, FBI Assistant Special Agent in Charge Kieran Ramsey, told ABC News. The government offers a $50,000 reward for information leading to his capture.
Terrorism observers have noted ISIS’s media savvy, from viral meme-like postings and hashtag campaigns on Twitter to elaborate full-production videos – efforts that can multiply the perception of ISIS’s breadth and power in Syria and Iraq.
As investigative journalist Paul Sperry reported for the New York Post, Abousamra was also tied to the notorious Islamic Society of Boston mosque also attended by the Boston bombers and other convicted terrorists:
Abousamra’s father, a prominent doctor, even sat on the board of directors of the Muslim organization that runs the mosque. He stepped down after the FBI began questioning his son. [...]
Abousamra’s father, Dr. Abdulbadi Abousamra, was president of the Islamic Center of New England mosques until 2007, when he moved to Detroit. The FBI began questioning his son a year earlier. As mosque president, internal documents show, Dr. Abousamra hired Hafiz Masood, brother of a known Pakistani terrorist, to be the imam of a mosque in Sharon, Mass., which his son also attended.
Ilya Feoktistov, Director of Research for the Boston-based Americans for Peace and Tolerance, which has tracked Islamic extremism and terrorism cases in the Boston area, has thoroughly documented the Abousamra family ties to ISB.
In a statement provided to PJ Media, Feoktistov said:
Ahmad Abousamra was just one of twelve individuals Americans for Peace and Tolerance have identified as worshippers or leaders at the extremist Islamic Society of Boston who have either been killed, imprisoned, or are fugitives from the law due to terrorist activity. Abousamra was not just a fringe figure in the Boston Muslim community. To the contrary, his father was vice president of the Muslim American Society, president of the Islamic Center of New England mosques in the Boston suburbs, and is still the president of the Islamic Academy of New England – a K-5 religious private school. Abousamra Sr. left America for Qatar after his son was announced as wanted by the FBI.
Abousamra’s death might temporarily put a crimp in the Islamic State’s propaganda efforts targeting Westerners, but with more than a hundred Americans and U.S. persons fighting for terror groups in Syria and Iraq, Abousamra may be quickly replaced.
Going back to 2007, I’ve reported on the growing problem of terror recruitment in the Twin Cities, particularly in the Somali community there.
In December 2007 I reported here at PJ Media on a well-attended terror fundraiser held in a prominent hotel in downtown Minneapolis that Homeland Security was warned about, but did nothing to prevent. Note that this was nearly a year before anyone else in the media was even paying attention to the recruitment of Somalis by foreign terrorist organizations.
Fast-forward to July 2009, and the media only then began reporting that the same meeting I had covered a year and a half before was the tipping point for terror recruitment in the Twin Cities. By that time, nearly two dozen young men had already been recruited and were fighting with Al-Shabaab in Somalia.
I have continued to report on that continued terror recruitment, including suicide bombers recruited from the streets of Minneapolis, and the extremist statements made by prominent Islamic leaders in the community.
More recently, I reported here on the failed jihadist deradicalization program set up by the chief federal judge of the District of Minnesota.
And in my article earlier this week on the rapidly escalating number of terror arrests in the U.S., I noted that many of the terror suspects nabbed by law enforcement this year for attempting to travel overseas to join ISIS have come out of Minneapolis.
Now comes documentary producer Ami Horowitz, who went to Minneapolis and conducted interviews with members of the Somali community there, finding widespread support for Islamic law over American law, as well as blasphemy laws limiting the First Amendment to punish depictions of Muhammad.
Back in November 2013, I appeared in an episode of The Blaze TV’s “For The Record” news magazine program talking about how court documents in many of these terror cases reveal the systematic recruitment inside the largest mosque in Minnesota, Masjid Abubakar As-Saddique.
In the following clip from that episode, “Minnesota Martyrs,” Abdirizak Bihi — whose nephew was recruited and killed fighting with Al-Shabaab, and I talk about the dozens of terror recruits tied to that mosque:
The problem of terror recruitment and promotion of widespread extremist ideologies in the Somali community is not an abstract concept for me, as my own hometown of Columbus, Ohio, has also seen a series of terror arrests over the years. Columbus has the second largest Somali population of any city in the country behind Minneapolis.
In November 2007, Columbus resident Nuradin Abdi pled guilty to his role in an Al-Qaeda terror cell in my city. According to court documents, Abdi and his associates discussed attacking an area shopping mall on “Black Friday,” the busiest shopping day of the year. Sentenced to 10 years in prison, Abdi was released in 2012 and deported back to Somalia.
A 50-year-old grandmother from Indianapolis who was profiled by Fox News in 2010 is back in the news in Germany, where she now lives, for the open support she and her jihadist husband are showing for the Islamic State.
Kathie Smith, who four years ago pleaded that she was a patriotic American just exercising her free speech, has now dropped that pretense. She publicly praises ISIS, the Taliban, and senior Al-Qaeda operatives. Refugees now living in Germany from areas victimized by ISIS were disturbed last summer when Smith and her husband flew the ISIS flag outside their home in Saarbrücken.
Smith first appeared in the media in a December 2010 article by investigative reporter Jana Winter at Fox News after Smith posted a video which included pictures of her and her German husband holding weapons interspersed with pictures of German terrorists. Wrote Winter:
A 46-year-old, blue-eyed grandmother and U.S. citizen from Indiana is under investigation for her possible ties to suspected and convicted international terrorists, FoxNews.com has learned.
Muslim-convert Kathie Smith, 46, of Indianapolis, married a suspected German jihadist tied to the Islamic Jihad Union last year and has been flying back and forth between the U.S. and Germany as recently as two weeks ago.
A pro-jihadist video featuring Smith and her husband is being investigated by the Indiana Intelligence Fusion Center, a threat and counterterror intelligence analysis clearinghouse staffed by law enforcement officials from local and federal agencies, including the FBI and Department of Homeland Security.
“Certainly, it’s being looked at evaluated by Indiana State Police, which runs Indiana Intelligence Fusion Center, ” Indiana Department of Homeland Security spokeswoman Emily Norcross told FoxNews.com, adding that the video would be passed along to appropriate law enforcement for further investigation [...]
In the nearly six-minute video, under investigation, the Indiana grandmother and her husband, known online as Salahudin Ibn Ja’far, 28, appear posing and hugging and holding weapons interspersed with photos of known and suspected terrorists and assorted jihadist propaganda, like an Awlaki sermon album cover. There are photos of German Taliban Mujahideen and Daniel Martin Schneider, Eric Breininger and Houssain Al-Malla, members of the Saarland cell of Islamic Jihad Union charged with plotting failed terror attacks against U.S. targets in Germany, including Ramstein Air Force Base.
Predictably, “Jihad Kathie” denied any terrorist ties. She painted herself as an America-loving victim just exercising her First Amendment rights when questioned by the local media:
But she also exercised her First Amendment rights by pulling her incriminating YouTube video.
Her cause was picked up by Ryan J. Reilly at Talking Points Memo. He derided Winter’s article, claiming that Fox had “flubbed” the story.
But national terror experts interviewed by local media confirmed the Fox report, saying that “Jihad Kathie” had been on the terror radar for years. Reilly had buried this information halfway down his article. (Reilly, now the Justice reporter at the Huffington Post, made news last summer during the Ferguson riots when he infamously mistook foam earplugs for rubber bullets.)
Now, four-and-a-half years later, there’s no question where this Indiana grandmother’s loyalties lie. The taken name of her husband, Salahudin ibn Ja’far (his real name is Michel Al Rubai), came up in the investigation of 2010 Stockholm suicide bomber Taimour al-Abdaly and also in the 2011 killing of two U.S. Air Force personnel at the Frankfurt airport by Arid Uka. Terror researcher Aaron Weisburd has documented that Salahudin was connected with both Al-Abdaly and Uka. Salahudin also publicly praised Uka for killing the two U.S. airmen.
In May 2011, the jihadist couple was interviewed by Der Spiegel for a segment on Islamist networks in Germany which featured Weisburd’s research on their direct ties to a number of known terrorists. (The interview begins around the 2:00-minute mark):
In the interview, Salahudin justifies the killing of German and American soldiers under Islamic law. Again, “Jihad Kathie” claims she was just exercising her rights, and that the earlier media coverage in the U.S. had brought death threats to her family.
In June 2012, Salahudin was placed on one year of probation by a German court for two videos he had posted inciting violence.
Last summer, the couple attracted the attention of German media by hanging an ISIS flag outside their Saarbrücken apartment as the terror group invaded northern Iraq. The invasion included a campaign of ethnic and religious cleansing targeting Christians, Kurds, and Yazidis.
The Saarbrücken neighborhood they live in is inhabited by a number of Assyrian Christian and Kurdish refugees whose people were being victimized by ISIS at that very time. Local groups protested the provocative act, including the Assyrian Cultural Association. An official of that group told the media:
We Assyrian Christians feel very hurt and concerned that in the middle of the city the sign of mass murder and genocide is publicly displayed directed at our fellow Christians.
Salahudin, a Muslim convert, happens to be a descendant of the Syrian Christians widely persecuted by ISIS.
Despite the open display of their ISIS sympathies being widely discussed in Germany by politicians and the media, no other U.S. outlet has yet mentioned the Indiana expatriate jihadist.
Following up on my report earlier today on the 40 terror-related arrests so far this year — nearly double the number for 2013 and 2014 combined — the FBI arrested yesterday another Houston-area man for conspiring to support ISIS.
Asher Abid Khan, a 20-year-old from Spring, Texas, planned to travel to Syria through Turkey to join ISIS, but was lured back home by his family who lied and told him that his mother was dying.
According to the FBI press release:
The criminal complaint alleges Khan and a friend devised a plan to travel to Turkey and on to Syria for the purpose of joining and waging jihad on behalf of ISIL. Khan had allegedly asked a Turkish-based foreign terrorist fighter facilitator that “I wana join ISIS can you help?” He also told someone else that “I wana die as a Shaheed [martyr],” according to the allegations.
Khan’s friend allegedly made it to Syria and ISIL with the assistance of Khan and the foreign terrorist fighter facilitator. Khan had been living in Australia with a relative and made it to Istanbul, Turkey, where he was to meet up with his friend in their quest to join ISIL, according to the complaint. However, Khan’s family sent him false information regarding his mother’s health and he was deceived into returning home to Texas.
Khan apparently made it onto the FBI’s radar when his social media messages turned up in another investigation.
Heavy reports on his friend who did make it to Syria and joined with ISIS:
According to the press release, a friend of Khan’s who he conspired with was able to successfully travel to Syria and joined ISIS. He was not named in the release and was identified in the criminal complaint only as “S.R.G.”
The FBI alleges that Khan put his friend in contact with the Turkish-based ISIS facilitator so that the friend could join the terror group in Syria.
The complaint states that the friend goes by the name Abdullah Ali, and is a Mexican convert to Islam.
He is also from Texas, the FBI says. Ali’s Facebook page states that he is a Houston resident.
The FBI says his Facebook page included photos of S.R.G dressed in camouflage and holding what appeared to be an AK-47-style rifle. He told Khan he had gone through an ISIS boot camp, shot the rifle and “even fought a ‘(l)il bit,’” the FBI said in the complaint.
As I noted in my previous article today, the Islamic terror threat in the American homeland is metastasizing rapidly, due mainly to the recruiting and propaganda efforts of the Islamic State and the sheer number of thousands of foreign fighters pouring into the conflict in Syria.
But with many countries now actively preventing would-be jihadists from traveling to Turkey to link up with the ISIS and other terror groups in Syria, many are now looking for alternative fields of jihad. Reuters reports today on video they obtained of foreign fighters now having joined up with Boko Haram in Nigeria.
And, of course, would-be jihadists frustrated in their attempts to travel abroad are also looking to conduct terror attacks at home with the encouragement of ISIS and other terror groups.
Here’s the full complaint in Khan’s case:
The arrest of two southern California men last week who were planning to travel to Syria to join the Islamic State brings the number of U.S.-based individuals involved in international terror-related cases this year to 40. (UPDATE: with the arrest of Houston-area Asher Abid Khan late Monday for supporting ISIS, the tally is now 41.)
This number highlights the metastasizing Islamic terror threat in the American homeland. At the current pace, by the end of June — halfway through 2015 — the number of cases will exceed the number from the past two years combined (48).
The Islamic State, as well as al-Qaeda affiliates and other Islamic terror groups, have repeatedly called for supporters to conduct attacks inside the American homeland:
- After the U.S. began bombing ISIS targets last September, the group called for attacks in response.
- Just days after the Charlie Hebdo attack in Paris in January, a call for attacks targeting “intelligence officers, police officers, soldiers and civilians” was re-released.
- In March, the group released a “kill list” including the names, photos, and addresses of U.S. military personnel.
- This month, after the attempted terror attack in Garland, Texas, they claimed to have 71 trained operatives located in 15 American cities.
Recent evidence gives cause for concern. As I noted here at PJ Media, FBI Director Comey downplayed the number of Americans who had traveled to Syria to fight with ISIS and other terror groups before the midterm elections. He stated on 60 Minutes that “roughly a dozen” were fighting in Syria. But in February, senior officials corrected that number. They admitted that 180 had traveled to Syria. They also admitted that 40 had returned to the U.S. and posed a potential threat. FBI Director Comey then said they were investigating ISIS suspects in all 50 states.
Underscoring the failure to alert the public regarding the threat, concerned citizens have not been able to find a list of the 40 individuals arrested this year. Until now, a public list simply didn’t exist.
Here they are: the 40 U.S.-based individuals charged in Islamic terror-related cases in 2015.
(This list will undoubtedly grow. I will update with new information as it becomes available.)
May 22: Muhanad Badawi, 24, and Nader Elhuzayel, 24, both of Anaheim, California, were arrested on Thursday for planning to travel to join ISIS. Elhuzayel was arrested at Los Angeles International airport trying to board a flight that included a stopover in Istanbul, presumably where he would have left the flight and tried to cross the Turkey/Syria border. Both were active on social media praising ISIS. (FBI press release. Complaint.)
May 14: Bilal Abood, 37, of Mesquite, Texas, an Iraqi-born naturalized U.S. citizen who migrated to the United States in 2009, was arrested for lying to the FBI about his travel to Syria, where he planned to fight against the Assad regime. In March 2013 he was prevented from boarding a flight at Dallas Fort Worth International airport and was questioned by the FBI. The following month he transited to Mexico and flew to Turkey, returning in September 2013, when he was questioned again by the FBI. A July 2014 search of his computer found a pledge of allegiance to Islamic State caliph Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. (FBI press release. Complaint.)
May 3: Elton Simpson, 30, and Nadir Soofi, 37, both of Phoenix, Arizona, were killed in a gunfight with law enforcement outside a Garland, Texas community center where a “Draw Muhammad” cartoon contest was being held. As I noted here at PJ Media, Simpson had been communicating with known ISIS operatives on Twitter, and had been known to the FBI since 2006 due to his association with convicted terror operative Hassan Abu Jihaad. Soofi grew up in Pakistan and moved to the U.S. as a teenager. The pair attended a Phoenix mosque with previous terror connections. (PJ Media live blog.)
April 23: Mohamad Saeed Kodaimati, 24, of San Diego, California, was arrested on charges of lying to the U.S. Embassy in Ankara, Turkey, Customs and Border Protection, and the FBI about his travels to Syria. As I reported here at PJ Media, Kodaimati was caught in a series of lies related to his work on behalf of a sharia court operated by Jabhat al-Nusra — al-Qaeda’s official affiliate in Syria and a U.S. designated terrorist organization — and also about his role in mediating between Jabhat al-Nusra and ISIS in northern Syria. (FBI press release. Complaint.)
April 19: Six men from the Twin Cities area of Minnesota were arrested in Minneapolis and San Diego for conspiracy and material support for terrorism for their plans to travel to join ISIS. Mohamed Abdihamid Farah, 21, Adnan Abdihamid Farah, 19, Abdurahman Yasin Daud, 21, Zacharia Yusuf Abdurahman, 19, Hanad Mustafe Musse, 19, and Guled Ali Omar, 20, had been planning to travel to Syria for more than 10 months, and continued their plan even after several of their associates had been arrested. On May 19, federal prosecutors filed a superseding indictment with additional charges, including a previously arrested associate. It also stated that one of the men, Abdirahman Yasin Daud, had threatened to kill FBI agents if they tried to stop him. As I reported here at PJ Media, the federal judge in the case has said that he is considering releasing some or all of the men to a halfway house to participate in a local “deradicalization” program. (FBI press release. Complaint.)
April 24: Related to the previous case, an associate of the defendants, Mahamed Abukar Said, 19, was arrested for threatening to kill the U.S. attorney general, warning of a “massacre” if the Feds didn’t release his friends, and intimidating an informant in the case on Twitter.
April 10: John T. Booker (aka Muhammad Abdullah Hassan), 20, of Topeka, Kansas was arrested in a plot to detonate a car bomb targeting soldiers at the U.S. Army base at Fort Riley. As I reported here at PJ Media, in April 2014 the FBI publicly dismissed Booker as a terror threat after Fox News published an alert by military authorities warning that Booker intended to conduct an attack on U.S. military personnel. (FBI press release. Complaint.)
April 10: Related to the Booker case, Alexander E. Blair, 28, also of Topeka, Kansas, was charged with failing to report a felony for not informing authorities of Booker’s plans when he had advance knowledge of the plot. The FBI alleged that Blair, who shared Booker’s Islamic extremist views, had loaned Booker money to rent a storage unit to store bomb components. (FBI press release. Complaint.)
April 9: Joshua Van Haften, 34, of Madison, Wisconsin, was charged with trying to provide material support to ISIS by traveling to Syria to join the terror group. He was arrested by Turkish immigration officials in October, and arrested upon his return at O’Hare Airport in Chicago. (FBI press release. Complaint.)
April 4: Miguel Moran Diaz (aka Azizi al-Hariri), 46, of Miami, Florida was arrested for being a felon in possession of a firearm. According to the federal complaint, Diaz was an ISIS supporter who described himself as a “lone wolf” who intended to kill people and engrave the bullet shell casings so that law enforcement would “know there was a sniper in town.” (Complaint.)
April 3: Keonna Thomas (aka Fatayat Al Khilafah), 30, of Philadephia, Pennsylvania was arrested for planning to travel to Syria and martyr herself for ISIS. Thomas had applied for a passport and purchased an electronic visa for Turkey. Prosecutors claimed that she had been voicing support for ISIS on social media since at least August 2013. (FBI press release. Complaint.)
April 2: Muhanad Mahmoud Al Farekh, 29, originally from Texas, was returned from Pakistan and charged with recruiting others to kill U.S. military personnel. Leaving for Pakistan from Canada in 2007 and serving in a senior position within al-Qaeda, the Obama administration had discussed using a drone to kill Al-Farekh. (DOJ press release. Complaint.)
April 2: Noelle Velentzas, 28, and Asia Siddiqui, 31, both of Queens, New York, were arrested for plotting to detonate a weapon of mass destruction, and even discussed targeting a police funeral. When they were arrested, authorities found bomb-building materials including propane gas tanks, soldering tools, pipes, a pressure cooker, and fertilizer. The pair had previously been roommates, and Siddiqui had been in regular contact with al-Qaeda officials in Yemen, most notably with U.S. al-Qaeda propagandist Samir Khan. In 2009, one of her poems was published in al-Qaeda’s Inspire magazine. (FBI press release. Complaint.)
March 26: Hasan Rasheed Edmonds, 22, of Aurora, Illinois — a U.S. Army National Guard specialist –was arrested at Chicago’s Midway airport on a trip with the eventual destination of Syria to join ISIS. Also arrested was his cousin, Jonas “Yunus” Edmonds, 29, also of Aurora, Illinois, who was charged with planning a terror attack on an Illinois National Guard facility with AK-47s and grenades. He intended to use Hasan’s uniform to enter the facility after his departure. (DOJ press release. Complaint.)
March 18: Tairod Pugh, 47, of Neptune, New Jersey, was charged with material support for a terrorist organization following his attempt to travel to Syria to join ISIS. In January, he flew to Turkey from Egypt, but was sent back by Turkish authorities. A U.S. Air Force veteran, Pugh had expressed on his Facebook page and elsewhere his dislike for America and his allegiance to the jihadi cause. (FBI press release. Complaint.)
February 27: An unnamed 17-year-old from Woodbridge, Virginia was arrested and charged with assisting others trying to join ISIS. As the suspect is a juvenile, the indictment is sealed. However, federal prosecutors have said they intend to charge him as an adult. The teen reportedly wrote for several websites, and published articles in defense of slavery in Islam.
February 24: Three men living in Brooklyn, New York, Abdurasul Hasanovich Juraboev, 24, Akhror Saidakhmetov, 19, and Abror Habibov, 30, were arrested for planning to travel to Syria to join ISIS. Juraboev and Habibov are from Uzbekistan, and Saidakhmetov is from Kazakhistan. Two other individuals – one in Brooklyn, the other in Norfolk, Virginia – were arrested on immigration charges related to the case. (FBI press release. Complaint.)
February 11: An unnamed 16-year-old inspired by ISIS was arrested in York, South Carolina on gun charges. Prosecutors claimed that the teen conspired with another unnamed North Carolina resident to rob a Raleigh gun store, and then use the weapons to shoot up a U.S. military base. In April, he was sentenced to serve five years in juvenile prison until he is 21. Because of the suspect’s age and the lack of a state terrorism statute, he could only be charged with weapons-related offenses. His accomplice in North Carolina has not been named or apparently charged. Local officials claimed they kept the case quiet for “public safety” concerns.
February 6: Ramiz Zijad Hodzic, 40, his wife, Sedina Unkic Hodzic, 35, and Armin Harcevic, 37, all of St. Louis, Missouri, Nihad Rosic, 26, of Utica, N.Y., Mediha Medy Salkicevic, 34, of Schiller Park, Ill., and Jasminka Ramic, 42, of Rockford, Illinois — all Bosnian immigrants — were indicted following a two-year investigation for funneling money, guns, and military hardware to ISIS operatives in Syria. Their support included aiding Abdullah Ramo Pazara, also of St. Louis, who traveled to Syria in 2013 just months after becoming a U.S. citizen, and became a top deputy to ISIS commander Omar al-Shishani and was reportedly killed last year. Rosic was arrested on his way to Syria. (FBI press release. Complaint.)
February 5: Hamza Ahmed, 19, of Minneapolis, Minnesota was charged with lying to the FBI after being stopped from boarding a flight in New York intending to travel to Syria to join ISIS. Ahmed was part of a group of four men who traveled by bus to New York in November. He denied knowing the men he traveled with in an interview with FBI agents. Ahmed had been active on Twitter supporting ISIS and Jabhat al-Nusra, which kept him in jail following his arrest. Earlier this month, he was charged in a superseding indictment in the case of six other Minneapolis men who were planning to join ISIS. He and another suspect are charged with fraud for using federal student loans to finance their trip. (FBI press release. Complaint.)
February 2: Abdirahman Sheik Mohamud, 26, of Columbus, Ohio, was arrested on state terror charges for traveling to Syria and fighting with Jabhat al-Nusra, al-Qaeda’s Syrian affiliate. In April, Mohamud was indicted on federal charges for plotting terror attacks in the U.S. targeting military and police officials. His brother was reported killed fighting with Jabhat al-Nusra in June 2014. Mohamud reportedly had been conducting weapons training with others after his return from Syria at a local Ohio gun range. As I noted here at PJ Media, he applied for his passport to travel to Syria just a week after becoming a U.S. citizen and days after being caught lying to the FBI. (FBI press release. Complaint.)
January 14: Christopher Lee Cornell (aka Raheel Mahrus Ubaydah), 20, of Green Township, Ohio, was arrested leaving a Cincinnati-area gun store, where he had purchased two semi-automatic rifles and 600 rounds of ammunition. Federal prosecutors allege that Cornell planned to set off pipe bombs around the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C. and then to shoot fleeing government workers. During a jailhouse interview with a local TV station, Cornell said that he would have also attacked the Israeli embassy and put a gun to President Obama’s head. Earlier this month he was also charged with material support for ISIS. (FBI press release. Complaint.)
As the Heritage Foundation notes, since 9/11 there have been 68 Islamic domestic terror plots; 57 involved homegrown operatives.
The attempted terror attack this month in Garland, Texas was only averted due to luck and the work of local law enforcement authorities who took the potential threat seriously.
With the number of homegrown Islamic terror operatives increasing rapidly and the calls by Islamic terror groups overseas for attacks on the American homeland coming more regularly, it seems to be only a matter of time before we see another successful attack on American soil in the manner of the Boston bombing, the Fort Hood massacre, and the Little Rock Army recruiting center killing. Or perhaps a larger scale attack, as in Mumbai in November 2008.
When that future attack happens, it will come at a time when the credibility of our counter-terrorism and national security apparatus in speaking honestly about the nature and scope of the threat is at its lowest.
If the jihadist terror attacks in the West over the past year are any indicator, the next domestic terror attack will most likely be by what I have termed a “known wolf” – someone who is already known to law enforcement authorities.
It’s only a question of who, where, and when, and of how many Americans will die.
Just getting news reports that a bomb squad has detonated a device found in a suspicious car near the U.S. Capitol Building.
Breaking 911 reports:
DC Officials, including the bomb squad, have apparently blown up a device from a ‘suspicious’ vehicle parked near Capitol and a Memorial Day Concert.
The item looks like a pressure cooker and propane tanks have been removed from the car.
Thousands of people eager to get into the National Memorial Day Concert were delayed from entering.
Police are still searching the vehicle.
Jay Korff of the local ABC affiliate is tweeting details:
— Jay Korff (@ABC7Jay) May 25, 2015
— Jay Korff (@ABC7Jay) May 25, 2015
— Jay Korff (@ABC7Jay) May 24, 2015
— Jay Korff (@ABC7Jay) May 25, 2015
— Breaking911 (@Breaking911) May 25, 2015
UPDATE: The plot thickens…
— Fox News (@FoxNews) May 25, 2015
UPDATE2: The Washington Times identifies the arrested man as Israel Shimlis.
Fox News reports:
The incident began at around 5 p.m. local time, when Capitol police officers on patrol noticed a vehicle they deemed “suspicious” on a street that crosses the National Mall west of the Capitol between Constitution and Independence Avenues. Further investigation revealed that the vehicle contained a pressure cooker and detected an odor of gasoline.
A bomb squad was called in and streets were temporarily closed off. The pressure cooker was detonated at approximately 7:45 p.m. The investigation was closed approximately 35 minutes later with nothing further found.
Senior security officials told Fox News that investigators initially believed that the pressure cooker “might be the real deal.” Pressure cookers have been used in several recent terror attacks, mostly notably the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing that killed three people and injured 260 others.
Sources told Fox News that the pressure cooker may have been part of a propane tank used in a food truck.
MORE: Police detect gas odor before destroying pressure cooker from 'suspicious' vehicle near Capitol: http://t.co/n13Ay9lVze
— The Associated Press (@AP) May 25, 2015
— USA TODAY (@USATODAY) May 25, 2015
A document entered into court evidence by Justice Department prosecutors in the largest terrorism financing trial in American history, and later cited affirmatively by the federal judge in the case and cleared by the federal appeals court, would seem an unlikely target for a former journalist to try to spin a conspiratorial tale around, namely slandering others of hawking a racist/”Islamphobic” “Protocols of the Elders of Islam.”
And yet that is what David K. Shipler, a former New York Times reporter and winner of the 1987 Pulitzer Prize, is now trying to do.
Clearly upset that so-called “Islamophobes” have been successful using the document – again, discovered by the FBI, submitted into the evidence by federal prosecutors and approved as genuine by the federal court – to expose the Muslim Brotherhood roots of some of America’s largest Islamic organizations, Shipler wields his “Islamophobia” harpoon like Ahab at his “anti-Islam industry” Moby Dick.
He makes his dubious case in a new book out this week, entitled “Freedom of Speech: Mightier Than the Sword” (Alfred A. Knopf), which includes an entire chapter on the subject, and summarizes it in an article published on Tuesday in The New Yorker, “Pamela Geller and the Anti-Islam Movement.” The book received a very lukewarm review in the New York Times this past Sunday.
In the New Yorker article, Shipler claims:
Virtually all the alarm over the coming Islamic takeover and the spread of Sharia law can be traced back to an old document of questionable authority and relevance, “An Explanatory Memorandum on the General Strategic Goal for the Group in North America.” Dated May 22, 1991, it was found in 2004 by the F.B.I., buried in one of a large number of boxes uncovered during a search of a house in northern Virginia. (I reported on the discovery and the use of the document for my book “Freedom of Speech: Mightier than the Sword.”) It is cited on numerous Web sites, and in articles, videos, and training materials, which quote one another in circular arguments. Its illusion of importance was enhanced by federal prosecutors, who included it in a trove of documents introduced into evidence in the 2007 trial of the Holy Land Foundation, a charitable organization ultimately convicted of sending money to Hamas.
The memo, however, is far from probative. It was never subjected to an adversarial test of its authenticity or significance. Examined closely, it does not stand up as an authoritative prescription for action. Rather, it appears to have been written as a plea to the Muslim Brotherhood leadership for action, by an author we know little about, Mohamed Akram. He is listed elsewhere as a secretary in the Brotherhood, but he writes in the tone of an underling. Islam watchers do not quote his appeal that the recipients “not rush to throw these papers away due to your many occupations and worries. All that I’m asking of you is to read them and to comment on them.” These lines reveal the memo as a mere proposal, now twenty-four years old. No other copies have come to light.
Two features of the memo are highlighted by the Islam watchers: first, its assertion that “the Ikhwan [Muslim Brotherhood] must understand that their work in America is a kind of grand jihad in eliminating and destroying the Western civilization from within,” and, second, “a list of our organizations and the organizations of our friends.” [emphasis added]
What’s remarkable about Shipler’s treatment of the Explanatory Memorandum in his article and in his book is how much he is willing to quickly dismiss facts that completely undo his case, and how he pays no attention to the glaring contradictions he ends up wrapping himself into trying to debunk the document. At major points he contradicts himself. He breezes over the mountain of evidence that he has to overcome, but that means he can’t plead ignorance of it. One is only left with the conclusion that he’s being intentionally mendacious.
I beg the reader’s indulgence, for I will quote lengthy passages and on occasions paste screenshots from the court documents themselves so you know I’m not engaged in anything dodgy. Tellingly, most of these quotes never appear in Shipler’s book, and if so, only in selectively edited form.
So let’s start with the evidence.
The document he is trying to cast doubts on is known generally as the “Explanatory Memorandum,” but it’s actual title is “An Explanatory Memorandum on the General Strategic Goal of the Group in North America.” The document is dated May 22, 1991, and was entered into evidence as “Elbarasse Search – 3″ by federal prosecutors in the Holy Land Foundation terrorism financing trial in 2008.
Helpfully, the federal court overseeing the case in an unusual move posted the trial evidence on their own website. The Explanatory Memorandum and the FBI translation of the document can be found here.
At this point, we can turn to what the Justice Department said in federal court about the Explanatory Memorandum. In one court filing, available on the ACLU’s website, federal prosecutors state (p. 12):
The evidence introduced at trial, for example, established that ISNA and NAIT were among those organizations created by the U.S.-Muslim Brotherhood.8 Govt. Exh. 3-64 (seized from the home of HAMAS leader Ismail Elbarasse); Govt. Exh. 3-3 (Muslim Brotherhood document noting that ISNA was founded by the US-Muslim Brotherhood) ; Govt. Exh. 3-85 (1991 memorandum authored by U.S.-Muslim Brotherhood Shura Council member Mohamed Akram Adlouni, recognizing ISNA and NAIT as Muslim Brotherhood organizations.) Government’s Exhibit 3-85, entitled An Explanatory Memorandum on the General Strategic Goal of the Group, described the Brotherhood’s strategic goal as a kind of “grand Jihad”:
The Ikhwan must understand that their role in America is a kind of grand Jihad in eliminating and destroying the Western Civilization from within and sabotaging its miserable house by their hands and the hands of the believers so that it is eliminated and God’s religion is made victorious…. [emphasis added]
So the Justice Department states that:
1) Two Islamic organizations – the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA) and the North American Islamic Trust (NAIT) – were created by the U.S. Muslim Brotherhood (based on other trial evidence as well as the Explanatory Memorandum);
2) The Explanatory Memorandum was authored by U.S. Muslim Brotherhood Shura Council member Mohamed Akram Adlouni;
3) That the memo describes the Brotherhood’s strategic goal as “a kind of grand Jihad in eliminating and destroying Western Civilization from within.”
Now please note that these claims were not made by “Pamela Geller and the Anti-Islam Movement” but the Justice Department in a federal court filing. He can tilt at all of the “anti-Islam” windmills he wants, but fundamentally he still has to explain away the court evidence.
And as stated earlier, much to the consternation of Shipler, the federal court agreed in a published opinion with the Justice Department’s analysis of the document when Judge Jorge Solis ruled on motions from three separate organizations named as unindicted co-conspirators in the trial — ISNA, NAIT, and the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) — asking to be removed from the Justice Department’s co-conspirator list. The judge’s ruling against removing the groups from the unindicted co-conspirator list was unsealed in 2010.
In that ruling, Judge Solis states (p. 15):
Government Exhibit 3-85 is titled “An Explanatory Memorandum on the General Strategic Goal for the Group in North America,” authored by Mohamed Akram of the Shura Council of the Muslim Brotherhood and dated May 22, 1991. (Gov’t Ex. 3-85 (Elbarasse 3) at 21.) The “Explanatory Memorandum” includes a section titled “Understanding the role of the Muslim Brother in North America,” which states that the work of the Ikhwan in the United States is “a kind of grand Jihad in eliminating and destroying the Western civilization from within and sabotaging its miserable house by their hands and the hands of the believers so that it is eliminated and God’s religion is made victorious over all other religions.” (Id.) Also contained in that document is a list of the Muslim Brotherhood’s “organizations and the organizations of our friends,” which includes ISNA, NAIT, the Occupied Land Fund (“OLF”) (HLF’s former name), and the United Association for Studies and Research (“UASR”). (Id. at 32.)
So Judge Solis found that:
1) The Explanatory Memorandum was authored by Mohamed Akram of the U.S. Muslim Brotherhood Shura Council;
2) That the document describes the agenda of the Muslim Brotherhood’s “grand Jihad in eliminating and destroying the Western Civilization from within”;
3) That the document lists the Muslim Brotherhood’s “organizations and the organizations of our friends,” including ISNA and NAIT.
At this point Shipler laughably believes he has room to maneuver. In the New Yorker article and in his book, he makes three general claims:
1) That the judge blindly accepted the Justice Department’s argument about the origins and importance of the memo and never allowed adversarial challenges to its provenance;
2) That the Explanatory Memorandum was admitted as hearsay, meaning that the groups named in the memo were never allowed to challenge in court;
3) That the judge failed to distinguish between the memo’s list of “our organizations” and “the organizations of our friends.”
Let’s take these in order.
1) Judge Solis accepted the Justice Department’s description of the Explanatory Memorandum unquestioningly and never allowed adversarial challenges.
In discussing the order by Judge Solis in response to the motions of the three Islamic organizations, Shipler states in his book (p. 190):
CAIR and two other groups moved to have themselves removed from the list of unindicted co-conspirators, but the effort backfired and gave Islam watchers more ammunition. Not only was their motion denied by Judge Jorge Solis, who presided over the retrial, conviction, and sentencing of the five Holy Land Foundation defendants (the first trial had ended in a hung jury). He also accepted the government’s assertions by citing the seized Elbarasse documents, including the Explanatory Memorandum, without testing their accuracy in an adversarial proceeding. He did not distinguish between the memo’s list of “our organizations” and “the organizations of our friends.” He ruled, “The Government had produced ample evidence to establish the associations of CAIR, ISNA [Islamic Society of North America], and NAIT [North American Islamic Trust] with HLF [Holy Land Foundation], the Islamic Association of Palestine (“IAP”), and with Hamas.” [emphasis added]
Remarkably, Shipler contradicts himself just a few pages later, quoting a defense attorney for the Holy Land Foundation defendants who said that the Elbarasse documents had, in fact, been challenged by the defense team (p. 198):
The defense team lodged vigorous objections to the introduction of this and the other documents from the Elbarasse search, and two attorneys on the defense team, Nancy Hollander and Marlo Cadeddu, scoffed at Guandolo’s statement. “There was no such stipulation by the defense,” said Cadeddu. “Nor would we ever have stipulated to any such thing. Any claims to the contrary are simply untrue.” Indeed, after the five Holy Land officials and fund-raisers were convicted, their lawyers argued specifically, in an unsuccessful appeal to the Fifth Circuit, that the trial judge had erred in admitting the documents, which the attorneys branded hearsay, irrelevant to the charge that the defendants had funneled money to Hamas. [emphasis added]
A terror deradicalization program — established in the “Ground Zero” of terror recruitment, Minnesota’s Twin Cities — has already failed after just a few months.
The program was established after a federal court released 19-year-old terror suspect Abdullahi Yusuf to a halfway house earlier this year. Federal prosecutors opposed Yusuf’s release, but were overruled by the federal judge in the case, Michael J. Davis, the Chief Judge of the District of Minnesota. Today, Yusuf again sits in jail, having violated the terms of his release.
Remarkably, Judge Davis said today in a separate case of six men charged with trying to join the Islamic State that he would be willing to consider “less restrictive options” than detaining the men – just a day after Yusuf’s re-arrest.
Last May, Yusuf was arrested at the Minneapolis airport while on his way to Syria by way of Turkey to join the Islamic State. One of his accomplices, Abdi Nur, did make it to Syria, and he now serves as an effective recruiter for the terror group.
Just last week, the Wall Street Journal reported on the program with an article titled “A Test Case for ‘Deradicalization’“:
The path of reform for Abdullahi Yusuf, a U.S. teenager who tried to become a radical Islamic soldier, passes through writings of Martin Luther King Jr., readings of the U.S. Constitution and discussions about life and literature with a fellow Somali-American named Ahmed Amin.
Mr. Yusuf’s attempt to travel to the Middle East last year helped lead authorities to six Minnesota men who were charged last month in connection with a plan to join Islamic State abroad. The 19-year-old has become a test case for whether Americans lured by Islamic extremism can be deradicalized.
A Minnesota judge earlier this year sent Mr. Yusuf to a halfway house, where he adheres to a tailor-made curriculum aimed at reintegrating him into American society and his immigrant community here. If the program succeeds, Mr. Yusuf’s sentence could be reduced — and the approach to his deradicalization replicated, experts say.
Counterterrorism experts believe it is the first such effort in the U.S. to try to turn a young person connected to a terror prosecution away from an extremist Islamist ideology since the advent of groups like al-Shabaab and Islamic State, or ISIS.
Apparently, reading Martin Luther King Jr., Richard Wright’s Native Son, and articles about the experience of Native Americans didn’t sway Yusuf to keep compliant with the program. The Star-Tribune reports today:
Abdullahi Yusuf, a Somali-American who pleaded guilty to conspiring to support terrorists in the Middle East, has been taken into custody for allegedly violating conditions while living in a St. Paul halfway house, according to court documents filed Monday.
Yusef, a student at Inver Grove Community College, drew national attention after a federal judge decided to place him in a halfway house and provide counseling for him rather than hold him in custody while awaiting sentencing.
Yusuf’s alleged violations were not detailed in court records.
Despite the violations not being detailed, the video report on Abdullahi’s re-arrest aired on the local CBS affiliate notes Abdullahi’s violations occurred on the same day last month that six other Twin Cities men were arrested for attempting to join the Islamic State.
One additional interesting tidbit is that according to the New York Times, federal prosecutors opposed Yusuf’s release:
Mr. Yusuf, Mr. Nur’s co-defendant, has pleaded guilty to conspiring to provide material support for terrorism and faces a maximum sentence of 15 years. But in an experiment being watched nationally, Judge Michael J. Davis of Federal District Court agreed to a presentence plan to divert Mr. Yusuf to a halfway house with the support of Heartland Democracy, an education nonprofit in Minneapolis. He worked at Best Buy and attended community college until late November, when he was jailed for a time in connection with his attempt to travel to Syria. His supporters are now working with the court to get him back in classes and eventually back in a job.
The idea, said Mary McKinley, executive director of Heartland Democracy, is to gradually reintegrate Mr. Yusuf into the community, and possibly give him a role in countering the radicalization of young people.
“Ideally, Abdullahi will be able to tell his story in a way that is useful to young people who are frustrated and disengaged,” Ms. McKinley said. His lawyer, Jean M. Brandl, said her client was not prepared to speak publicly.
Federal prosecutors opposed giving Mr. Yusuf a break, noting that he had lied to F.B.I. agents at the airport. But Judge Davis, who knows the Somali community well enough to ask about clans and sub-clans, went along with the plan, intended to reduce the chasm between Somalis and law enforcement officials. Parents and friends concerned about a young person drawn to the Islamic State are more likely to call the police, advocates say, if they believe there is an alternative to a long prison sentence.
The Associated Press reports today that during a hearing for the other six men arrested in April accused of trying to join the Islamic State Judge Davis said he is willing to consider “less restrictive options” than holding the men until trial:
Five Minnesota men accused of trying to travel to Syria to join the Islamic State group were ordered Tuesday to remain in custody pending trial, but Chief U.S. District Judge Michael Davis said he’s open to exploring less restrictive options.
The five men are all charged with conspiracy to provide material support to a foreign terrorist organization; four are charged with attempting to provide such support. Their attorneys had appealed orders that the men be held while their cases proceed, arguing their clients weren’t dangerous or a flight risk.
In separate hearings for each man Tuesday, Davis said no set of conditions could reasonably ensure the community’s safety or guarantee that each man would not flee. But he told attorneys to come up with plans that could support their release.
“I’m not rushing into this,” Davis said. “It’s a slow process. But I’m taking a look at each of these defendants individually.”
As the saying goes, “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again expecting different results.”
Within the past hour, several tweets featuring the #LondonAttack hashtag have shown up on Twitter, including one warning Muslims to leave the area of Covent Gardens:
— Nick The Hammer (@nick1995whufc) May 11, 2015
— TakodasGal (@StayingInUSA) May 11, 2015
After that account was suspended, the user apparently began tweeting under a new account:
Others seem to show an explosive device and weapons:
Over the weekend, there were fake Twitter threats from Islamic State supporters targeting two international flights that were subsequently diverted.
But, as was widely reported, one of the would-be jihadists targeting the Texas “Draw Muhammad” event posted a tweet on his account featuring the #texasattack hashtag just minutes before the two terrorists were killed in a gunfight outside the event. These users are clearly trying to mimic that.
— JΞSTΞR ✪ ACTUAL²³ (@th3j35t3r) May 11, 2015
Just to qualify, we cannot vouch for the veracity of these tweets or their threats.
UPDATE: The user who apparently made the initial threat posted a screenshot of this article:
Yesterday at PJ Media, I reported on conflicting stories offered by the Islamic Community Center of Phoenix (ICCP) regarding former mosque attendees Elton Simpson and Nadir Soofi, who were killed this past Sunday in a gunfight outside a Dallas-area center where a “Draw Muhammad” cartoon contest was being held.
I noted the attempts by the mosque president, Usama Shami, to downplay the ties of the two would-be terrorists. This included Shami’s claim to the press that neither was a regular member. In fact, Elton “Ibrahim” Simpson had been featured in a mosque fundraising video posted on ICCP’s YouTube channel in 2012 identifying him as a member:
In fact, Simpson and Soofi were not the only two terrorists spawned from ICCP. Two other previous ICCP mosque attendees — Hassan Abu-Jihaad and Derrick Shareef — are currently in federal prison on terrorism-related charges.
There are remarkable parallels with Simpson and Soofi, including that Abu-Jihaad and Shareef were also roommates.
Further, Usama Shami attempted to downplay their association with ICCP as well. He told the Arizona Republic he never saw the pair – despite court records in both their cases stating they had attended the mosque.
Abu-Jihaad is currently serving a 10-year federal prison sentence for passing classified information to a UK-based al-Qaeda webmaster. According to the Justice Department:
In 2001, Abu-Jihaad was serving as a U.S. Navy signalman aboard the U.S.S. Benfold and had access to the future movements of his group of ships, led by the aircraft carrier U.S.S. Constellation. Six months after the attack on the U.S.S. Cole, and before leaving home port in San Diego for a deployment in the Persian Gulf, Abu-Jihaad transmitted then-classified information about his battle group’s itinerary, listing dates for anticipated port calls in Hawaii and Australia, and for the battle group’s transit through the Strait of Hormuz. Abu-Jihaad’s disclosure discussed the battle group’s perceived vulnerability to terrorist attack.
The leak did not come to light until well after Abu-Jihaad left the Navy, when an investigation into Azzam Publications led to the search of a London apartment associated with one of the website’s organizers, and authorities found a floppy disk containing the U.S. Navy information. Subsequent investigation uncovered several email exchanges from late 2000 to late 2001 between members of Azzam Publications and Abu-Jihaad, including discussions regarding videos Abu-Jihaad ordered from Azzam Publications that promoted violent jihad and extolled the virtues of martyrdom; a donation of money Abu-Jihaad made to Azzam Publications; and whether it was “safe” to send materials to Abu-Jihaad at his military address onboard the U.S.S. Benfold.
The FBI established a direct tie between Abu-Jihaad and Simpson according to court documents in the latter’s 2010 trial, as Simpson was first questioned by the FBI in 2006 when authorities believed he might be part of a terror cell:
In 2006, agents opened a criminal investigation of him based on his ties with an individual “whom the FBI believed was attempting to set up a terrorist cell in Arizona,” according to court documents.
Agents say Simpson knew Hassan Abu-Jihaad, an enlistee in the U.S. Navy later convicted of leaking classified information about upcoming movements of his battle group to an alleged terror cell in London. Simpson told agents he knew Abu-Jihaad, who was arrested in Phoenix in 2007, but did not tell them anything else about him.
Undoubtedly, what launched that 2006 investigation was the activity of Abu-Jihaad’s former roommate, Derrick Shareef.
Shareef was arrested in 2006 for his role in a plot to set off hand grenades at a Rockford, Illinois shopping mall during the holiday season. He later pled guilty on a charge of attempting to use a weapon of mass destruction, and was sentenced to 35 years in prison.
During his trial, the FBI provided video tapes of Shareef threatening Americans:
“You are the enemies of Islam, for the sake of Allah we are coming for you,” Shareef says in a tape that looks like it could have been shot somewhere in the Middle East. In fact, the camera was 90 miles from Chicago in a Rockford home where the 22-year-old and a friend each made several videos declaring their desire for destruction.
“We will target you in your homes. We will target you in your businesses. We will target you in your synagogues and your churches. We do not fear you Kafirs. I swear by Allah I am ready to give my life right now for the cause,” the tape says.
As I have reported extensively here at PJ Media over the past year, a growing mountain of evidence confirms that the “vetted moderate” Sunni groups that the U.S. has backed in Syria — backing which includes CIA-provided heavy weaponry – have always been working with the very same jihadist groups that the Obama administration and the Washington, D.C. foreign policy “smart set” have consistently claimed they would counter.
Now, a new report establishes that even more CIA-backed “vetted moderate” groups are collaborating with groups designated by the U.S. as terrorist organizations. Specifically, they are collaborating with al-Qaeda’s official affiliate in Syria, Jabhat al-Nusra, though at times they have also operated jointly with the Islamic State.
Reuters reported last Thursday that two Free Syrian Army (FSA) units — Division 13 and Fursan al-Haq — are fighting side-by-side with the Nusra Front in northern Syria:
Hardline Islamists fighting side-by-side with groups backed by the United States have made gains in northern Syria in recent weeks while showing rare unity, which some fear may be short-lived.
An Islamist alliance calling itself Army of Fatah, a reference to the conquests that spread Islam across the Middle East from the seventh century, has seized northwestern towns including the provincial capital Idlib from government forces.
The alliance, which includes al-Qaeda’s wing in Syria, known as the Nusra Front, and another hardline militant group, the Ahrar al-Sham movement, is edging closer to the coastal province of Latakia, President Bashar al-Assad’s stronghold.
Fighting alongside them, although excluded from a joint command center, are groups which reject the jihadists’ anti-Western aims and say they receive covert support from the CIA. Two of these are called Division 13 and Fursan al-Haq.
While the Islamist groups appear to be stronger than their Western-backed allies, it is a rare example of cooperation, just weeks after Nusra Front fighters crushed a previous U.S. backed rebel force in a blow to Washington’s Syria strategy.
Remarkably, Reuters (as well as many other establishment media outlets) continues to present this level of cooperation between U.S.-backed groups in Syria and terrorist organizations as “rare.”
This is categorically false.
In an effort to preserve that narrative, Reuters added this howler:
Abu Hamoud, a commander from Division 13, said his group coordinated with Nusra Front, which the United States considers a terrorist organization, but this does not mean it is aligned to it.
As if “coordinating” with al-Qaeda is functionally different from “aligning” with al-Qaeda.
In service of this narrative, establishment media have attempted to create distinctions between Nusra and other U.S.-backed groups. Reports have noted that the Nusra Front had recently taken out two of the major Syrian rebel groups, Harakat al-Hazm (in March) and the Syrian Revolutionaries Front (in November), and that both had been trained and received heavy weapons from the United States. However, both groups had been openly cooperating with Nusra before their demise.
Both Hazm and SRF had their “vetted moderate” credentials provided by the D.C. foreign policy establishment, which deemed Hazm as “rebels worth supporting” and SRF as “the West’s best fighting chance against Syria’s Islamist armies.”
Last year, just as SRF was in line to receive CIA-provided anti-tank missiles, SRF commander Jamal Maroof told Western media that he had no intention of fighting al-Qaeda.
A few weeks later, the Wall Street Journal reported that SRF had been fighting alongside the Nusra Front in the Golan Heights of southern Syria. In September, Agence France Presse reported that SRF had struck a truce with the Islamic State, thus ending any notion that they ever had a chance “against Syria’s Islamist armies.”
When Liz Sly of the Washington Post interviewed the commander of Hazm in April 2014 just as they were beginning to receive heavy weapons shipments from the U.S., the commander gave a double-sided response about Nusra:
LS: You have already participated in the fight against the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria. What are your relations with Jabhat al-Nusra?
AA: Jabhat al-Nusra is a military formation, a fighting battalion that exists on the ground like any other. We have no strong or meaningful relationship with them. They fight on their fronts, and we fight on ours.
LS: What do you think of them?
AA: They hold responsibility for bringing ISIS fighters to Syria from across the world. This was a mistake committed against the Syrian people. I think of them as a group of people fighting to topple the regime, but if they change their ideology to resemble that of ISIS or bring death and destruction upon the Syrian people, then we won’t allow it.
In September, an article in the L.A. Times reporting from the frontlines in Syria recorded an exchange with two Hazm fighters armed and trained by the U.S. The fighters admitted that they liked Nusra and fought in coordination with them.
Just a few weeks later, as U.S. warplanes began to target the Islamic State in northern Syria, Hazm issued an official statement condemning the strikes as “an attack on the revolution” Of the U.S., they demanded “unconditional arming” of the Syrian rebels.
After two attendees of the Islamic Community Center of Phoenix (ICCPA) were killed in a gunfight Sunday night in Garland, Texas, outside a facility where a “Draw Muhammad” contest was being held, the leaders of the mosque have given conflicting stories about the relationship the two had with the place of worship.
Most of the conflicting accounts have come from mosque president Usama Shami, who has been regularly featured in multiple press reports following the events Sunday evening. Most of his statements have been attempts to distance the mosque from the two would-be terrorists.
For example, a Dallas Morning News article quotes him as saying the pair were not regular members:
Usama Shami, president of the Islamic Community Center of Phoenix, said Simpson and Soofi attended prayers at the mosque but were not regular members. Simpson started attending Friday prayers at the mosque about 10 years ago, he said, but visited the mosque less frequently after he was arrested.
But in fact, a video posted on the ICCPA YouTube channel in 2012 features Elton (“Ibrahim”) Simpson and identifies him as a member:
The above quote by Shami asserts that Simpson stopped frequenting the mosque after his 2010 arrest. Another account by a local spokeswoman published in the Arizona Republic claimed that the mosque had shunned Simpson:
Deedra Abboud, a converted Muslim and a former community activist-turned-lawyer said Wednesday that members of the Islamic Community Center of Phoenix were scared and that “everybody’s being pressured by the FBI.”
Abboud also said that while the FBI’s case bothered Simpson, so did a sense that the mosque turned its back on him.
“It was a combination of the two things: harassment by the FBI and the Muslim community avoiding him like the plague,” said Abboud, who helped raise money for Simpson’s bail and knows many of his closest acquaintances.
“It was the isolation,” she said. “My theory is that he was upset with the Muslim community and he became more susceptible to radical ideas.”
However, mosque president Shami stated several times that it was only within the past few months that the pair stopped attending:
Simpson had worshipped at the Islamic Community Center of Phoenix for about a decade, but he quit showing up over the past two or three months, the president of the mosque told The Associated Press.
The center’s president, Usama Shami, said Simpson would play basketball with mosque members and was involved with the community. Soofi owned a nearby pizza business and would stop in to pray occasionally, he said.
That account was repeated by the L.A. Times:
Usama Shami, president of the Islamic Community Center of Phoenix, remembers Simpson as “a pleasant kid” who taught his jump shot to younger children at basketball courts near the mosque. Simpson attended the mosque beginning in his high school years, Shami said, and was active until just months ago.
“We didn’t see him too much lately,” said Shami, whose mosque is about two miles from the apartment shared by Simpson and Soofi.
So we see Shami giving two very different versions of Simpson’s attendance at the mosque.
Shami also tried to distance the mosque from Simpson’s 2010 arrest:
Shami disagreed that the mosque shunned Simpson. The mosque did decline to raise money for his legal defense, he said, concerned with not knowing where the FBI case would lead.
“Our first priority is to protect the mosque. It cannot be part of any federal case,” he explained, adding that Simpson was always welcome to attend even after his conviction.
And yet, multiple media reports quote Simpson’s attorney, Kristina Sitton, saying the mosque posted a $100,000 cash bond after his arrest:
The Islamic Community Center of Phoenix posted $100,000 cash bond to release him from custody, Sitton said.
Again, from the L.A. Times:
Simpson was placed on three years’ probation and fined $600. His mosque in Phoenix had posted his $100,000 bail.
That hardly seems to be a way to keep the mosque clear of Simpson’s charges.
Whether it is the membership status of the pair with the mosque, the repeated claims that they had cut ties with the mosque years ago, or that the mosque didn’t want to get involved in Simpson’s 2010 court case, the ICCPA leaders can’t seem to keep their story straight.
A Kansas City mosque that petitioned Barack Obama to ban free speech defaming Islam in 2012 will hold the funeral for one of the two jihadists killed in a shootout Sunday outside a Dallas-area convention center that was hosting a “Draw Muhammad” cartoon contest.
The Islamic Society of Greater Kansas City (ISGKC) will hold a funeral on Thursday for Nadir Soofi, according to KCTV5:
The funeral for one of the people suspected in a chilling attack outside a Texas art contest will be held in the metro.
While Nadir Soofi never lived in the metro his father lives in an Overland Park neighborhood near 158th Place with his wife, Nadir’s stepmother. A woman who came to the door at the home told KCTV5 that the family didn’t want to talk about what happened to Soofi.
Police say the 34-year-old and 30-year-old Elton Simpson opened fire at a Dallas area conference center on Sunday. An art exhibit and contest depicting the Prophet Mohammad was being held there.
They wounded a security guard before police shot back, killing both.
While not mentioned in the article’s text, the KCTV5 video report specifically states that Soofi’s funeral service will be at ISGKC.
As I reported at PJ Media back in September 2012, ISGKC launched an online petition calling for Barack Obama to sponsor a bill limiting the free speech of American citizens by criminalizing insults to religion (namely, Islam) following international protest of the “Innocence of Muslims” video.
The petition, which was signed by the ISGKC executive board and posted on the mosque’s website, received 348 signatures. One of the mosque board members defended the petition in an interview with the local media following our PJ Media report:
“Insulting somebody else or putting somebody down can insight violence and lead to people losing their lives. We’re trying not to give these people a chance to misbehave,” said Mohammed Kohia, who started the petition along with the executive board of the Islamic Society of Greater Kansas City.
But as a local ACLU attorney explained:
Somebody’s speech is no excuse for violence, that’s right … but you can’t punish the speaker for the violence practiced by others. While I understand why they’re upset, their preposition is clearly unconstitutional.
As I noted at the time, the position of ISGKC was particularly peculiar given that the mosque had hosted internationally renowned Islamic hate speaker Khalid Yasin, whose controversial statements include calling for the death penalty for gays and describing the beliefs of Christians and Jews as “filth.”
An Australian news channel exposed Yasin’s extremist views back in 2005:
So with Nadir Soofi and Elton Simpson’s attempts to silence speakers at Sunday’s event in Texas, perhaps Soofi’s funeral at ISGKC is appropriate.
UPDATE: In the “you can’t make this up” category, Kyle Shideler notes that Nadir Soofi “liked” Khalid Yasin on his Facebook page:
— Kyle Shideler (@ShidelerK) May 6, 2015